Query re "tump"

Elizabeth Gregory e-gregory at TAMU.EDU
Mon Nov 26 22:39:08 UTC 2001

FWIW, here is my take on "tump."

A native Alabamian (b. 1962, Montgomery), I used this word as a child. To the best of my memory, it was always accompanied by "over." At some point, as I grew older, I just stopped using it. My sense of it is that "tump" is a baby or child word, though I have heard it used by some adults.

To me, the word is interchangeable with "tip" or "turn" accompanied by "over." I think the item that tumps over must be a vessel of some sort, capable of holding and spilling contents--for instance, a boat can tump over, a bottle of milk can tump over, a bowl of Cheerios can tump over, but a rock can't tump over. It's also a convenient way to discuss the spilling of something without actually admitting you caused it--"What happened here?" "Oh, it just tumped over."

I never really connected it with "dump."

In about 1991 or 1992, I heard a female college student (also a native of Montgomery, AL) at Auburn University use the word, but without the "over," in reference to a boat. She said the boat "almost tumped"--the "almost" was significant because she and her boyfriend were in the boat and he was asking her to marry him. Fortunately, the boat didn't actually tump, and they later married. At the time of the story-telling, however, her friends teased her about using the word. I thought the reason for the teasing was that she was using a childish word, but I could be wrong.

Elizabeth Gregory

>>> flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU 11/26/01 03:24PM >>>
Could it be related to "tamp," as in "tamp down"?  Though the word is
unfamiliar to me, this somehow makes more sense than a blend of 'thump' and

At 08:00 AM 11/26/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Dang Rudy, I done forgot "tump," but my folk etymology differs from
>yours. I believe that when you are "tumping" some stuff out of a
>container that you must be prodding the movement along with a tap on
>the bottom (of the container, that is). For me, therefore, it is a
>combination of "thump" and "dump," as best as I can retieve boyhood
>folk etymologies.
>Sime I am South Midland (through and through), the label "Chiefly
>Southern" is right or wrong - depending on what "Southern" includes.
>>To those less lexically impoverished by having this verb in your
>>         I am wondering if dictionaries are right in labeling this "chiefly
>>Southern", and also if there are shades of meaning not captured in the
>>definitions. I have always assumed that this was simply part of everyone's
>>lexicon, until a colleague asked me about it recently and I checked a
>>couple of dictionaries.
>>         In asking my mother about it (now 98, from East Texas), she felt
>>that it contrasted with "dump" in either the degree of inclination of a
>>container, or in the size of the container, with "t" being less than "d"
>>in either case (a new consonantal ablaut?). Does anyone else share this
>>         Origins seem obscure, but let me offer my own folk-etymology: a
>>combination of "tip" and "dump". It usually, but not necessarily, occurs
>>with "over".
>>         Rudy
>Dennis R. Preston
>Department of Linguistics and Languages
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
>preston at pilot.msu.edu
>Office: (517)353-0740
>Fax: (517)432-2736

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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