A stem-winding watch.
A rousing oration, especially a political one.
(US, proscribed) An boring, interminable speech.
Origin of stem-winder
- US, mid-late 19th century, originally referring to then-recent stem-wind watches (invented in 1840s, commercialized initially 1850s by Patek Philippe & Co.). These were expensive, top-notch watches, hence generalized (1892) to “top-notch", particularly applied to speeches, or to the orator in question. Non-speech senses later fell out of use. Nuance of “rousing" speech possibly by analogy with watch being wound up (“tighten by winding, excite, rouse").
- Circa 2000, later sense of “interminable speech" a folk etymology, in sense “a speech that lasts so long one must wind one's watch".