Photo of author


Gumption is an interesting word that has been in use since the early eighteenth century, though its meaning has evolved over time. We will examine the definition of the word gumption, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Gumption means bravery, get-up-and -go, drive or initiative. Someone who possesses gumption is a self-starter and has the nerve and motivation to succeed. However, this current definition of gumption didn’t arise until the nineteenth century. Before that time, gumption was a Scottish term and meant having street smarts or common sense, or being shrewd. The meaning of the word gumption changed after being adopted into English. The word gumption is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse word gaumr, which means to pay attention to. The word gormless is also derived from this word, and describes someone who is clueless. Gumption is a mass noun, which is a noun that cannot be counted and does not require an indefinite article, and also lacks a plural form.


“That takes a lot of gumption… I do see this as something that the world will look at as an example.” (Japan Today)

He was there for in support of Avon, but every kid on both teams played with a little more gumption knowing there were big league eyes on them. (USA Today)

But there’s another destructive addiction that not only typically goes uncensored, but is often actually applauded as “drive,” “ambition,” or “gumption.” (The Sunbury Daily Item)

Thistleton added, “We were very impressed that she took it upon herself and had the gumption to approach us, and she did quite well at the Fair’s pageant while proudly representing Stanhope.” (The Township Journal)