I know, who the hell uses the word Gumption anymore?
According to the Google Book historic view the word Gumption really peaked in 1939-1940, started growing again in the 1980’s, and burst back into popularity in the 2000’s (likely as it was a plot point in the Cameron Diaz-Kate Winslet romantic comedy The Holiday.)
So why on earth would I guide my year in 2014 by a word that is best known in modern times by a chick flick?
Here’s the definition of the word Gumption:
gump·tion (gəmpSHən): 1) shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness
That’s right. Gumption is pretty badass.
Etymologically it is of unknown origin, but word scholars believe that Gumption comes from an old Scottish word gaum (from the Middle English gome) which meant “attention or notice.” As Lucy Maud Montgomery once wrote “Anyone who has gumption knows what it is, and anyone who hasn’t can never know what it is. So there is no need of defining it.” Gumption is also a recurring theme in Robert Persig’s Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, so it isn’t just for sassy savvy ladies of pages and screens.
Over the past four years of carefully thinking over and deciding the words that would be my theme for the upcoming year (Love in 2010, Intention in 2011, Fun in 2012, Surrender in 2013) I realized that the past few years have been about a need to slow down and become softer. Not surprising for someone who just a few years before had garnered the nickname “Ice Princess” from her Corporate American peers (Ice Queen was already taken in the office.) (more…)