on the campaign stump or in the pulpit

< Previous | Next >

marcolo

Senior Member
France, french
Hello, I was reading an article on Yahoo!news, a quote of Obama reads as follows :

I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit.

I guess that stump means a bottom of a tree (I already heard it used to name the bottom of a muffin, it does not change the problem...), and pulpit is a clergical position. Unfortunately, I have troubles to catch the link between the pulpit and the stump, if there is any.

Thank you for your help.
 
  • Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Imagine an orator, or a political campaigner, standing on a tree-stump, so that he is visible to his audience.

    "on the stump" or on the campaign stump is a common expression in North America for a person engaged in political speech making.

    A pulpit is a raised platform [usually with a railing around it] for preaching.

    So a politician standing on a stump or a preacher standing in pulpit are in very similar positions physically, and also metaphorically.
     

    Jenc3

    Member
    USA - English
    That is a very good question!

    While stump primarily means the part of a tree (or other things) that is left when the top is cut off, the "campaign stump" is a term for the place where campaign speeches are made. It would be interesting to know why it's called that, but I don't know. So when Obama gives a political speech, he is "on the stump" or "stumping."

    This sentence means that degrading (insulting) words should not be said in political campaigns or from the pulpit (by religious leaders). Because in the U.S. we consider both of those public forums, I guess.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That is a very good question!

    While stump primarily means the part of a tree (or other things) that is left when the top is cut off, the "campaign stump" is a term for the place where campaign speeches are made. It would be interesting to know why it's called that, but I don't know. So when Obama gives a political speech, he is "on the stump" or "stumping."

    This sentence means that degrading (insulting) words should not be said in political campaigns or from the pulpit (by religious leaders). Because in the U.S. we consider both of those public forums, I guess.
    You may well be right about this Jenc, but when I first came across the expression, I explained it to myself differently. In BE the phrasal verb to stump up has two current usages which occur to me immediately, and which are probably connected:

    To stump up (the examples are from the web):

    1. To give money or something else of value, perhaps with reluctance.

    RBS asks shareholders to stump up more cash - recent headline from the Yorkshire Evening Post.

    The move was welcomed by Britain, the United States and Canada, which have long pressed European NATO members to stump up more forces

    2. To campaign to obtain something (almost always support).

    This false creation of an "enemy" is then paraded in front of the nation to stump up support for the labour party. It is a cheap trick. - BBC Cornwall

    Is he trying to stump up support for the Jesus-married-Mary Holy Grail crowd?

    We turn prowling into on the prowl and searching into on the search; it's a common English verbal habit. Why not stumping into on the stump?

    While the tree-stump as orator's platform may be the origin of to stump, to lobby for support, the expression on the stump might just be a use of this verbal habit, rather than a return to the etymological origins of the word, putting the speaker back on the stump.

    I just wondered.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top