Stem-winder or stemwinder

Photo of author


Stem-winder or stemwinder is an idiom that originated in the United States. We will examine the meaning of the idiom stem-winder or stemwinder, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A stem-winder or stemwinder is an exciting speech that whips the crowd into a frenzy; a rousing speech that energizes a crowd; a persuasive speech that stirs emotion. The idiom stem-winder or stemwinder is derived from a type of watch that came into use after the American Civil War. A stem-winder or stemwinder is a watch with a winding stem attached to it, rather than a key. In Britain, this type of watch was called a keyless watch. The idiom stem-winder or stemwinder to describe a speech came into use near the end of the nineteenth century. Note that the form stem-winder is a hyphenated compound word that is preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary, and stemwinder is a closed compound word with no hyphen or spaces that is preferred by other dictionaries.


But a report discussing Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s adaptation to radio said that he “was still capable of delivering — and did when the occasion warranted it — a rousing stemwinder.” (The Columbia Journalism Review)

The finest stemwinder in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network isn’t the famous speech, or the other famous speech, but the one no one ever talks about. (The National Review)

“I think you and any viewer knows exactly where I`m going with this,” MSNBC host Ari Melber said halfway into a stemwinder of a question for Sen. Cory Booker. (The Palm Beach Post)