Word Origin & History
mid-14c., "remaining part of a severed arm or leg," from or cognate with M.L.G. stump (from adj. meaning "mutilated, blunt, dull"), M.Du. stomp "stump," from P.Gmc. *stump- (cf. O.N. stumpr, O.H.G., Ger. stumpf "stump," Ger. Stummel "piece cut off"), perhaps related to the root of
, but the connection in each case presents difficulties. Earliest form of the word in English is a now-obsolete verb meaning "to stumble over a tree-stump or other obstacle," attested from mid-13c. Meaning "part of a tree trunk left in the ground after felling" is from mid-15c. Sense of "walk clumsily" is first recorded c.1600; that of "baffle" is first recorded 1807, perhaps in reference to plowing newly cleared land.
"to go on a speaking tour during a political campaign," 1838, Amer.Eng., from phrase stump speech (1820), from stump
(n.), large tree stumps being a natural perch for rural orators (this custom is attested from 1775).