Stem-winder meaning

stĕmwīndər
A stem-winding watch.
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A rousing oration, especially a political one.
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A watch that is wound up by turning a small knob (at the stem)
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(US) A rousing speech, especially by a politician.
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(US) Someone who gives such speeches, a great orator.
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(US, proscribed) An boring, interminable speech.
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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").

    From Wiktionary

  • Circa 2000, later sense of “interminable speech" a folk etymology, in sense “a speech that lasts so long one must wind one's watch".

    From Wiktionary