gamp (jumper)

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gamp (jumper)

Post by Imago » Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:22 am

I grew up on Long Island in the 1950s and the article of clothing commonly called a "jumper" (a dress worn over a shirt) in the U.S. was always called a "gamp" by my mother. My mother is an educated woman who never used slang nor did she make-up words. She grew up in Brooklyn. Does anyone else know this word?
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gamp (jumper)

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:26 am

Welcome, Barbara!
Here "gamp" is said to mean "a large, baggy umbrella", "after the umbrella of Mrs. Sarah Gamp, a character in the novel Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens".
Could there be a connection?
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gamp (jumper)

Post by Imago » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:29 pm

I don't think there is a direct connection, but I did find that "gamp" is a variation of spelling of the blouse warn under a jumper. Maybe that is why baggy umbrellas are called gamps. Possibly the two terms became confused. In my mother's head? In her neighborhood? The store clerks must have understood her when she asked for them.
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Post by zmjezhd » Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:38 pm

All I could find is that Maria Callas, born in 1923 in Manhattan and raised in Queens, called a jumper a gamp, too.

[Addendum: According to this book from 1885, gamp comes from the French word guimpe, which seems to be the preferred spelling. It is related to the word wimple. Although, the A-H entry, just linked to, defines it as "[a] blouse worn under a jumper". HTH.]
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gamp (jumper)

Post by JANE DOErell » Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:04 pm

A search of news.google for ~ gamp garment OR dress OR shirt OR blouse OR jumper gives several hits from the New York Times back in the 1890s (Reminder, news archive dates are frequently unreliable.) with such lines as " baby waist and gamp dress", "dress was worn also wlth a white gamp", "under the gamp sleeve" and more. There seem to be a lot of references to a gamp sleeve.

Just gamp and jumper doesn't find anything that seems to me to be relevant but the searches pull up a lot of stuff with "gamp" not relevant to clothing e.g. names and misspellings or scanning errors.

I cannot find it in Websters 1828 or 1913. Onelook hits say it is an umbrella.

I hope this information is not too far off topic.
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gamp (jumper)

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:13 pm

JD, too far off-topic!? HA!
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Post by Imago » Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:25 pm

Super sleuthing, Jane Doerell! So "gamp dress" existed at one time in New York. Now if I can only find someone else who actually used this word in their lifetime.
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gamp (jumper)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:45 pm

As an aside, in British English the term 'jumper' means not a dress worn over, or with, another garment, but what in the US is called a 'sweater' (though 'sweater' is also extensively used in the UK too).
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gamp (jumper)

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:52 pm

While on the subject:
Two friends went to a club for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, the club required a tie. One of the guys did not have one. So his pal took jumper cables from his car. He told his friend to wear them as a tie. The bouncer discovered the ruse. He let the man in, but warned him not to start anything!
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Post by p. g. cox » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:00 pm

When I was a child in England the term gamp for umbrella was commonly used but I never heard it used as a term for an item of clothing. The Martin Chuzzlewit connection sounds plausible. I may be clutching at straws but it also crossed my mind that gamp could be related to the Italian word "gamba" = leg, hence "gams" or even "leg-of-mutton sleeve". I believe Callas was of Italian descent.
Also, my mother used to knit us wooly jumpers for the winter saying that the yarn came from wooly jumpers in Australia.
Having said that James, I promise not to start anything.
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Post by Tony Farg » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:39 am

Probably nothing to do with it, but the first 2 letters are the same as a "ganzy" which is what my Gran (a very correct victorian lady)used to call a sweater. I always assumed that was a corruption of "Guernsey" which is a particular style of patterned oiled-wool fisherman's sweater from one of the islands in the channel between UK and Europe. Another island is called Jersey, which has a different style, and lent its name to jerseys.
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Post by p. g. cox » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:26 pm

Tony, I don't know if you have watched the TV series "As time goes by" but in several episodes Lionel wears a Guernsey. My wife has one and it is actually waterproof.
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Post by Imago » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:18 pm

My aunt and my mom, both in their 80s, came up, separately, with the right spelling: guimpe (pronounced gamp). http://www.thefreedictionary.com/guimpe
It turns out to be the blouse worn under a jumper, but both women recalled it as the name for a jumper.
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:37 pm

I had been thinking all along, "Why don't you ask your Mother?", but I thought she might be unavailable, though you'd said "is an educated woman".
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gamp (jumper)

Post by Liam - Galway » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:58 am

Tony, don't know if your Gran had any connections with Ireland, but the Irish for a jersey or jumper is geansai (pronounced ganzey).

Have no idea where it orignates from tho'....
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