Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. anupumh's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hindi
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,110
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    Arrow Gumming up the words

    Hi,

    What does this phrase mean and how will we use it?

    "Gumming up the works"

    Thanks
    Last edited by anupumh; 21-Aug-2009 at 20:31.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 20,227
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: Gumming up the words

    Quote Originally Posted by anupumh View Post
    Hi,

    What does this phrase mean and how will we use it?

    "Gumming up the words"

    Thanks
    Where did you come across this phrase, and why do you want to use it?
    (It doesn't mean anything to me).
    Same for "hanging fire".

  3. anupumh's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hindi
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,110
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: Gumming up the words

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Where did you come across this phrase, and why do you want to use it?
    (It doesn't mean anything to me).
    Same for "hanging fire".
    My mistake, its "Gumming up works"

    Hanging fire is somewhat related to delaying or procastinating

    I have the potential to be a trainer, but I am hanging fire.

  4. Huda-M's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Urdu
      • Home Country:
      • Pakistan
      • Current Location:
      • Pakistan

    • Join Date: Aug 2008
    • Posts: 1,209
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: Gumming up the words

    Gum up the works, Slang. to spoil something, as through blundering or stupidity: The surprise party was all arranged, but her little brother gummed up the works and told her.

    Hope this helps.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Oct 2008
    • Posts: 909
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: Gumming up the words

    Hi, anupumh:

    Quote Originally Posted by anupumh View Post
    Hi,

    What does this phrase mean and how will we use it?

    "Gumming up the works"

    Thanks
    You've gotten some good responses to your queries about 'hanging fire' and 'gumming up the works.'
    I'd just like to add some information about the origins of these expressions that may help your understanding of them.

    'To hang fire' originally meant to refrain from igniting the charge in an old fashioned gun. In these weapons, the charge had to be ignited by hand, by means of a very hot wire, for example. Knowing this, one can imagine a soldier, otherwise ready to shoot, who waits for the order to do so, his 'fire' at the ready. This soldier would be 'hanging fire.'

    'We've got everything in line to build the new house. We're just hanging fire until the Building Department finalizes our permit.'

    I believe that the expression 'to hold fire' also came from the same situation. However, now, 'Hold your fire' means 'Don't shoot;' it doesn't convey the idea of someone ready to proceed, but holding back for the right time or for permission.

    'To gum up the works' originally referred to the workings of some kind of machine with moving parts (wheels, cogs, gears, etc.). If the machine is not properly maintained dirt and old oil will mix (making a gummy substance) and cause the 'works' to slow down and eventually stop altogether. So, people often use this expression to describe bureaucratic or other interference in an otherwise smoothly moving process.

    'Let's just make this an informal department policy. If we try to get it approved by the Board of Directors, their lengthy procedures will take forever and just gum up the works.'

    I hope this is helpful,

    Petra

  5. anupumh's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Hindi
      • Home Country:
      • India
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,110
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: Gumming up the words

    Quote Originally Posted by pyoung View Post
    Hi, anupumh:



    You've gotten some good responses to your queries about 'hanging fire' and 'gumming up the works.'
    I'd just like to add some information about the origins of these expressions that may help your understanding of them.

    'To hang fire' originally meant to refrain from igniting the charge in an old fashioned gun. In these weapons, the charge had to be ignited by hand, by means of a very hot wire, for example. Knowing this, one can imagine a soldier, otherwise ready to shoot, who waits for the order to do so, his 'fire' at the ready. This soldier would be 'hanging fire.'

    'We've got everything in line to build the new house. We're just hanging fire until the Building Department finalizes our permit.'

    I believe that the expression 'to hold fire' also came from the same situation. However, now, 'Hold your fire' means 'Don't shoot;' it doesn't convey the idea of someone ready to proceed, but holding back for the right time or for permission.

    'To gum up the works' originally referred to the workings of some kind of machine with moving parts (wheels, cogs, gears, etc.). If the machine is not properly maintained dirt and old oil will mix (making a gummy substance) and cause the 'works' to slow down and eventually stop altogether. So, people often use this expression to describe bureaucratic or other interference in an otherwise smoothly moving process.

    'Let's just make this an informal department policy. If we try to get it approved by the Board of Directors, their lengthy procedures will take forever and just gum up the works.'

    I hope this is helpful,

    Petra
    Thanks a ton for such an elaborate and illustrative explanation. It really helps in the use of any idiom and even any word if you are aware of its origin and initial usage.
    Please keep pouring in your knowledge and expertiese in your replies for us to imbibe and learn.

Similar Threads

  1. [General] words with unexpected meanings
    By daesung in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 14-Nov-2008, 16:19
  2. [General] How many English words gotta be mastered for a foreign learner?
    By Arak365 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 27-Aug-2008, 18:41
  3. Slang words
    By hopechest in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 31-Jan-2007, 08:36
  4. Help replacing words.
    By bmass in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 19-Aug-2006, 05:43
  5. Pronunciation of 'wh-" words
    By Joseph Ho in forum Pronunciation and Phonetics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-May-2006, 18:31

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •