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black gum

A deciduous tree (Nyssa sylvatica) native to eastern North America, known for the shades of bright scarlet its leaves turn in the autumn; also known as sour gum, black tupelo, or simply tupelo. The leaves of the black gum are an amazing sight in autumn.
See also: black, gum

flap (one's) gums

To chatter or blather. Quit flapping your gums—I need some quiet so I can think! Whenever Charlie starts to flap his gums, I can't get in a word!
See also: flap, gum

up a gum tree

In a challenging or troublesome situation. (Possums were known to flee predators by hiding in gum trees.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I have no savings, so if I get fired from my job, I'll be up a gum tree. Shouldn't we stop for gas? We'll be up a gum tree if the car dies on that desolate road ahead.
See also: gum, tree, up

beat (one's) gums

To talk repeatedly and/or lengthily but without impact. I constantly beat my gums about dirty dishes in the sink, and the kids still never clean up after themselves!
See also: beat, gum

beat one's gums

to waste time talking a great deal without results. (As if one were toothless.) I'm tired of beating my gums about this over and over. You're just beating your gums. No one is listening.
See also: beat, gum

flap one's gums

 and flap one's jaws
Rur. to talk aimlessly. They're still out on the porch, flapping their gums. Well, I can't sit here flapping my jaws all day. Gotta get back to work.
See also: flap, gum

gum something up

 and gum the works up
Fig. to make something inoperable; to ruin someone's plans. Please, Bill, be careful and don't gum up the works. Tom sure gummed up the whole plan.
See also: gum, up

gum up something

to cause something to stop working well Don't send any attachments or pictures, because they tend to gum up my computer.
Related vocabulary: gum up the works
Etymology: based on the idea of getting gum (a sticky substance) in a machine
See also: gum, up

walk and chew gum (at the same time)

to be able to do more than one thing at a time Officials say they have to plan for all kinds of possibilities, that they have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
See also: and, chew, gum, walk

gum up the works

to prevent a machine or system from operating correctly The project was going really well until that software upgrade gummed up the works.
Related vocabulary: gum up something
See also: gum, up, work

gum up the works

to prevent a machine or system from operating correctly In bad weather, twice as many people use their cars on the road, which really gums up the works.
See be up a gum tree
See also: gum, up, work

be up a gum tree

  (British & Australian old-fashioned) also be up a tree (American old-fashioned)
to be in a very difficult situation
Usage notes: A small animal in Australia called a possum climbs up a gum tree when it is being chased.
If the insurance company won't pay for the damage, I'll be up a gum tree.
See also: gum, tree, up

gum up

Ruin or bungle something, as in The front office has gummed up the sales campaign thoroughly. This idiom is also put as gum up the works, as in John's changes in procedures have gummed up the works in the shipping department. [Slang; c. 1900]
See also: gum, up

gum up

1. To cover with a sticky substance: Gum up the back of the paper so it will stick to the frame. Gum the poster up so it won't fall down.
2. To become inactive or inoperable because of interference with moving parts: The cash register gummed up while it was in the attic, and now we can't open it.
3. To cause complications or inefficiency in something: These new regulations have gummed our procedures up, and we can't get anything done on time. The extra layer of bureaucracy gummed up the department's ability to process claims quickly.
See also: gum, up

beat one’s gums

tv. to waste time talking a great deal without results. I’m tired of beating my gums about this stuff.
See also: beat, gum