Familiar Phrase

Aug 03, 2009

RAY: There's an expression that we've all used in our lives and I want to know from whence it came: "I'm stumped."

TOM: That's appropriate, too.

RAY: And we've used it on this show more than anyone has.

TOM: We certainly have. What is the derivation of the expression "I'm stumped"?


RAY: Here's the answer. Back in the early days of the Republic, when we were pushing westward.

TOM: I remember.

RAY: There arose a need to make areas that were passable for horses and wagons so people that settled there could get goods to market and whatever. These states were heavily forested and people, mostly the government, went through and cut down trees in order to make roads. By necessity they left the stumps because they were so difficult to move.

In some areas, there were so many stumps, and because the roads got washed with rains and became muddy, it was possible to get into an area where you couldn't move at all. Between the ruts in the road and the stumps all around your travel was impeded, and when that happened you were stumped.


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