Where did the sump pump get its name? Was it: a) from its inventor, Archibald J. Sump; b) from a nonsense word chosen simply because of the euphony of rhyming with pump; c) from a corruption of "something," coined by a farmer who wanted to pump "sump'n'" out of a hole but wasn't sure what it was; or d) none of the above. Awww, I bet you knew it was none of the above.
A sump pump is so named because it removes water from a sump. And what, you may ask, is a sump? A sump is a pit or reservoir designed to collect unwanted water, as in a subterranean basement. The word was first used in the 1650s and is derived from Middle English sompe, from which the word swamp also comes. An earlier cognate is the fifteenth-century Middle Low German sump, whose root is the Proto-Germanic sumpaz, a “marsh or morass.”
A sump pump usually stands in a specially constructed sump pit dug in the lowest part of a basement. As the pit fills with water, the pump automatically turns on and moves the liquid to a spot away from your home—like your neighbor’s back yard. That solves your problem!
The Bard of Buffalo Bayou discovered these lines scrawled on a parchment at the bottom of a sump pit, covered with what you might expect to find there.
When you’ve slipped in a slump,
And the road’s hit a bump,
And you’re flat on your rump,
And you look like a frump
And you feel like a chump,
And you’re down in the dumps,
And you’ve taken your lumps,
And you’re sick with the mumps—
Then put pumps in your sumps,
And you’ll come up with trumps!