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After a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), who, asked about God, says "I s'pect I growed. Don't think nobody never made me." The sense of excessive out-of-control growth is a misunderstanding.




  1. Something or someone who figuratively grows without control or intention.
    • 1945, Vannevar Bush, As We May Think:
      They employ a symbolism which grew like Topsy and has little consistency []
    • 1973, J Ryder, Trevayne:
      Are you implying that it just grew—a Topsy?
    • 1996, John H. Macdonald, The free world, page 25:
      The town grows like Topsy after the railway age begins. The fortifications are now quite useless since the city has outgrown them.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin, published 2003, page 171:
      Topsy-like, the Encyclopédie just grew and grew.
    • 2006, Jock Lauterer, Community journalism: relentlessly local:
      The paper grew like Topsy. Within two years, we rented the place next door, knocked a door through the brick wall, redid the front to look like a real newspaper office instead of a bunch of fly-by-nighters []
    • 2009, Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Children, Schools and Families Committee, National curriculum: Oral and written evidence (page 232)
      Why has National Strategies been allowed to grow like Topsy in some respects, and at the same time become even more complex, making it difficult for teachers to take in the amount of guidance that they receive?

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