Why Does Someone Get “Stumped?”
By Gunner Glam
Ever been faced with an issue and come to no logical conclusion how to resolve it? Studio Brow would like to inform people why folks get “stumped.”
Stumped: Stuck – unable to proceed, often regarding being confounded by some intellectual puzzle.
Origin: Some authorities have supposed that this derives from the development of the road system in the USA.
When these highways were being built the stumps of sawn down trees could be no more than 15 inches tall.
This was fine for the high axle wagons until rain softened the soil, at which time wagons would sink into the mud and were ‘stumped.’
A likely origin is the term derives from ploughs sticking when they hit tree-stumps.
All of the early citations of the phrase originate from there; for example, Seba Smith’s Letters of Major Jack Downing, 1833:
“My Good Old Friend, – I’m stumped. I jest got a letter from the Gineral.”
The term is pre-dated by the term ‘stumper,’ which was US slang for a difficult poser. This was cited in an 1807 edition of the New York magazine Salmagundi:
“They happened to run their heads full butt against a new reading. Now this was a stumper.”
Another possibility is it is a way of getting out in the game of Cricket.
If the Wicket keeper removes the bails when players are out of their crease being surprised or caught a little off guard then the Umpire, the one at square leg in this instance, will raise his index finger and they are out.
One possible origin for “stumped” is the same derivation as “stump speech,” where someone makes an outdoor speech to an audience, large tree stumps being a natural perch for rural orators.
As heckling was a big part of this practice, the verb “to be stumped” took on the meaning of being stuck for an answer.
A stump can be almost impossible to get rid of therefore if people ask one another a question which they cannot complete, they have been stumped.
-Hope this was informative, more soon from Studio Brow-