Stumped Again

It isn’t all that unusual of a thing for me to be ‘stumped.’  You know what I mean, right?  There are many things to which I just don’t know the answer (though I used to tell my kids when they were little that it is part of a daddy’s job to know “everything.”)

It’s another one of those curious expressions: “I’m stumped,” or “Oops…stumped again.”  Where does it come from?  Perhaps it originated with a farmer who was trying to plow a field but ran into a stump and got the plow stuck and couldn’t proceed because he was “stumped.”  What do you think?

One web site had this to say:

“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’. This is a good story, albeit one that doesn’t come packaged with any real evidence. Others have suggested that it might be from cricket, in which a batsman is out if the wicketkeeper removes the stumps with the ball when the batsman is out of his ground. This explanation is also lacking supporting evidence and in any case doesn’t really match the meaning of the expression.

“It is more likely that the term derives from ploughs sticking when they hit tree-stumps. The USA origin is certainly correct though. 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.”

So, now you probably know more about being stumped than you really wanted to know.  Today’s photo is a picture I took of a stump on the river beach winding down towards the northern California seaside village of Mendocino.

One more thing, though, before the picture: I’m not really stumped.  After all, dad’s DO know everything!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1891, the first public viewing of a motion picture took place in Thomas Edison’s workshop in West Orange, New Jersey, when a film was shown to a group of 147 representatives of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs.  The film consisted of a polite man bowing, smiling, waving and doffing his hat.  Sounds about as exciting as some of the movies they put out today!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  glaciers cover 5.8 million square miles (about 10% of the earth’s land surface), enough to cover the continent of South America.



One thought on “Stumped Again

  1. HA!HA! Finally a post I can really relate to:) your stump has class because,looking at a stump and being stumped are different then what I am going through every day in my own house, there are some who are as dumb as a stump!! And that ain’t class at all:(

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