Gumption

“Gumption” gradually lost the meaning of “street smarts” in the course of the 19th century (although that usage is still heard in certain parts of England), and now is used to mean simply “initiative” or “ambition.” Interestingly, however, another relative of that Middle English root “gome” (meaning “smarts” or “understanding”) is alive and well, albeit in a negative sense. To be “gormless” is to be clueless, empty-headed and hopelessly dense.

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