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Q: I enjoyed your blog item about “champing/chomping” at the bit. I wonder whether this shift is akin to “stamping/stomping” ground.

A: Your instincts are right. The word “chomp” (and “chomping”) arose as a popular variant of “champ” (and “champing”). The same thing has happened with “stomp” (“stomping”) and “stamp” (“stamping”). This time, too, the “amp” version preceded the “omp.”

“Stamping” dates from 1375, and the American phrase “stamping ground” dates from 1821, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The variation “stomping” (which is defined as “stamping”) dates from 1819, and “stomping ground” from 1854.

But the newer “stomping ground” now has overtaken the older expression. According to Garner’s Modern American Usage, “stomping ground” outnumbers “stamping ground” by 3-to-1 in print sources. Either version is now considered standard American usage.

In closing, I should mention that I jokingly refer to one of my two black Labs (the one with the biggest appetite) as Noam Chompsky. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist mentioning that!

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