1719, originally Scottish, "common sense, shrewdness", also "drive, initiative", possibly connected with Middle English gome (“attention, heed”) from Old Norse gaumr (“heed, attention”). Sense of "initiative" is first recorded 1812. English cognates include gaum (“to understand, comprehend”) and goam (“to see, recognize”)
- (Britain) Common sense, initiative, resourcefulness.
- (US) Energy of mind and body, enthusiasm.
- (US) Boldness of enterprise; initiative or aggressiveness.
- 1936 Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind ("Gumption" was used as one of Scarlett O'Hara's defining personality traits.) "What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.' So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn't."