Stem-winder Definition

stĕmwīndər
noun
A stem-winding watch.
American Heritage
A rousing oration, especially a political one.
American Heritage

A watch that is wound up by turning a small knob (at the stem)

Wiktionary

(US) Someone who gives such speeches, a great orator.

Wiktionary
(US, proscribed) An boring, interminable speech.
Wiktionary
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Other Word Forms of Stem-winder

Noun

Singular:
stem-winder
Plural:
stem-winders

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

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