I’m working on my first Georgian novella, the story of how Their Graces, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland, met and courted. In truth, that little story is in part a pretext to allow me to bury my nose in all manner of historical references. My latest pleasure in this regard is “English Society in the 18th Century” by Roy Porter.
In the first paragraph of his introduction, Professor Porter describes 18th century English society as “rumbustious,” which means boisterous, turbulent or unruly. OED suggests the word might be related to robustious, but I will associate it with rambunctious. While rumbustious is a very interesting word, I was distracted by the similar term, rumgumptious, which first appeared in print around 1780.
This is a regional English term (attributed to East Anglia) meaning strong willed, headstrong, or quarrelsome, or as one quote put it, “sturdy in opinion, rough and surly in asserting it.” Rumgumption, by contrast, is good sense, shrewdness, and dates from about 100 years earlier.
What a bouquet of colorful, emphatic words: Rumbustious, rambunctious, rumgumption, and rumgumptious—and likely all of them appropriate to Professor Porter’s subject.