gum up

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gum up (third-person singular simple present gums up, present participle gumming up, simple past and past participle gummed up)

  1. (transitive) To cause to be gooey or gummy, especially with the effect of obstructing the operation of some mechanism or process.
    • 1919, Ring Lardner Sr., chapter 2, in The Real Dope:
      I guess they's about 6 other clubs in the American League that if they had seen my name in the dead they wouldn't shed off enough tears to gum up the infield.
    • 1921, William MacLeod Raine, chapter 21, in Gunsight Pass: How Oil Came to the Cattle Country:
      He knew when the tools were in clay and had become gummed up. He could tell just when the drill had cut into hard rock at an acute angle and was running out of the perpendicular to follow the softer stratum.
    • 2000, Jeffery Deaver, Death of a Blue Movie Star[1], →ISBN, page 286:
      The timer was digital, so there was no way to physically gum up the mechanism.
  2. (transitive, idiomatic, by extension) To make non-functional; to interfere with or put into a state of disorder; to ruin.
    • 1918, Henry Blake Fuller, chapter 1, in On the Stairs:
      He had the car pushed to a near-by stable. . . . "You were right," he said, when I met him out again in it, a week later. "It was gummed up, so to speak; but it's working like a charm to-day."
    • 1966 July 29, "Europe: Permanent Watch?," Time:
      Erhard presumably felt it was no time to give his enemies grounds for charging him with gumming up relations with France.
    • 2010 Dec. 30, Sam Howe Verhovek, "Can Air Travel Be Improved in Bad Weather?," New York Times (retrieved 15 Aug. 2011):
      In the old days, a storm like this would gum up the entire system.

Derived terms[edit]



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