Definition of "stump"


Definition of "stump"

Postby bnjtokyo » Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:56 am

I found the following expression in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" (Chapter 9): "A stump of hay and part of the potato crop were sold off . . . . "

Can anyone provide a definition of "stump" in this context? None of my dictionaries have a definition that make sense in this context.


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Postby Perry » Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:03 pm

The closest that I could come to this is stump as signifying a remnant. See

If that isn't it, I'm stumped.
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Postby hotshoe » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:00 am

I have a theory: these days hay is dried while laying flat where it is cut before being baled, but in days past it was bundled and dried in the field in standing bundles, which looked a little like the stumps of felled trees - which themselves were cut higher up the trunk than they are today. What say you?

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Postby Stargzer » Wed Apr 26, 2006 6:13 pm

I found this reference:
February 22nd 1911
On Tuesday night a considerable part of St Mary's Hall, Belchamp Walter, was destroyed by fire. It is in occupation of Mr Borrow. It appears that Mr Borrow jun. was awakened by flames at 1-10 am and found the house and stables adjoining the house alight.Mr Borrow sen.was at once awakened and they proceeded to release liberate the horses and turn out the cattle from the yard. A barley stack, cart shed, fowl house, a stump of hay and quarter of threshed corn were destroyed, also traps, machinery and harness. Some poultry were saved but a few hens, ducks and turkeys were burnt to death, a goat shared their untimely death. The fire brigade from Yeldham arrived at 5-30 but by that time there was not much danger of the fire spreading. This is the fifth outbreak of fire in the vicinity and circumstances point to incendiarism, causing much unease to owners and occupiers in the district.
Looking for an older dictionary I tried Webster's 1828 Dictionary:
STUMP, n. [G.]

1. The stub of a tree; the part of a tree remaining int he earth after the tree is cut down, or the part of any plant left in the earth by the sythe or sickle.

2. The part of a limb or other body remaining after a part is amputated or destroyed; as the stump of a leg, of a finger or a tooth.
STUMP, v.t.

1. To strike any thing fixed and hard with the toe. [Vulgar.

2. To challenge. [Vulgar.]
. . . and Webster's 1913:
Stump (Page: 1430)
Stump (?), n. [OE. stumpe, stompe; akin to D. stomp, G. stumpf, Icel. stumpr, Dan. & Sw. stump, and perhaps also to E. stamp.]

1. The part of a tree or plant remaining in the earth after the stem or trunk is cut off; the stub.

2. The part of a limb or other body remaining after a part is amputated or destroyed; a fixed or rooted remnant; a stub; as, the stump of a leg, a finger, a tooth, or a broom.

3. pl. The legs; as, to stir one's stumps. [Slang]

4. (Cricket) One of the three pointed rods stuck in the ground to form a wicket and support the bails.

5. A short, thick roll of leather or paper, cut to a point, or any similar implement, used to rub down the lines of a crayon or pencil drawing, in shading it, or for shading drawings by producing tints and gradations from crayon, etc., in powder.

6. A pin in a tumbler lock which forms an obstruction to throwing the bolt, except when the gates of the tumblers are properly arranged, as by the key; a fence; also, a pin or projection in a lock to form a guide for a movable piece. Leg stump (Cricket), the stump nearest to the batsman. -- Off stump (Cricket), the stump farthest from the batsman. -- Stump tracery (Arch.), a term used to describe late German Gothic tracery, in which the molded bar seems to pass through itself in its convolutions, and is then cut off short, so that a section of the molding is seen at the end of each similar stump. -- To go on the stump, ∨ To take the stump, to engage in making public addresses for electioneering purposes; -- a phrase derived from the practice of using a stump for a speaker's platform in newly-settled districts. Hence also the phrases stump orator, stump speaker, stump speech, stump oratory, etc. [Colloq. U.S.]<-- on the stump -- campaigning for public office -->

Stump (Page: 1430)
Stump, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Stumped (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Stumping.]

1. To cut off a part of; to reduce to a stump; to lop.

Around the stumped top soft moss did grow. Dr. H. More.
2. To strike, as the toes, against a stone or something fixed; to stub. [Colloq.]

3. To challenge; also, to nonplus. [Colloq.]

4. To travel over, delivering speeches for electioneering purposes; as, to stump a State, or a district. See To go on the stump, under Stump, n. [Colloq. U.S.]

5. (Cricket) (a) To put (a batsman) out of play by knocking off the bail, or knocking down the stumps of the wicket he is defending while he is off his allotted ground; -- sometimes with out. T. Hughes. (b) To bowl down the stumps of, as, of a wicket.

A herd of boys with clamor bowled, And stumped the wicket. Tennyson.
To stump it. (a) To go afoot; hence, to run away; to escape. [Slang] Ld. Lytton. (b) To make electioneering speeches. [Colloq. U.S.]

Stump (Page: 1430)
Stump, v. i. To walk clumsily, as if on stumps. To stump up, to pay cash. [Prov. Eng.] Halliwell.

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Postby locksmith » Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:43 am

stump probably refers to bundle in the context

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Re: Definition of "stump"

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:23 am

I was looking back at some of my old posts and came across this one. As others have said, the stump of something is the bit left after the commercially valuable part has been removed. But what is a "stump of hay" in the context of the quote:
'A STUMP OF HAY and part of the potato crop WERE SOLD OFF [emphasis added], and the contract for eggs was increased to six hundred a week, so that that year the hens barely hatched enough chicks to keep their numbers at the same level."

That is "the stump of hay" refers to something that has value, not the bit left in the ground to rot. So I recently trolled around the internet and found that instead of selling the crop cut and bundled to the buyer, the farmer sometimes sells hay (and some other field crops) while still in the ground ("on the stump") as shown in this example from The Simple Farm ... e-hay.html
"In ages past we’ve only ever sold the hay on the stump (the farmer comes in and buys the hay still standing then they cut and bale and haul off)."

Which suggests the pigs sold off the hay still out in the field and the buyer was responsible for deciding when to cut and carry it off. It was a kind of futures sale: the pigs got the money now the buyer assumed the risk of bad weather (i.e. hail, drought) and obtained the right to harvest when the market value/nutritive value was at its maximum. It also suggests the pigs were maximising current income over future needs. Presumably the good husbandman would want some of that hay for his own animals but the greedy pigs were acting just like the greedy capitalist (Farmer Jones). Instead of borrowing money for infrastructure projects at current low interest rates to be paid back from future tax revenue, the pigs would provide the entrepreneur loan guarantees and let him do the work and reap the future income.

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