Part of speech:
(Like “eat,” “try,” and “want,” all transitive verbs do something to an object.
You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone.
Likewise, you tamp something or tamp down something.)
To tamp something, or to tamp down something, is to force it down by tapping it again and again.
This meaning can be concrete, as in "tamp the sod as you lay it down." We're more interested in the abstract meaning, though: you tamp something, meaning you take action to force it down and therefore lessen or reduce it, as in "tamp down expectations."
"Tamp" is a noun, too: it's the tool used for tamping something. "Tamper" is another noun, meaning "the thing or person who tamps." It has the same spelling as "tamper" as in "to mess with," as in "tampering with the evidence" or "don't tamper with the smoke alarm," but it's a different meaning.
How to use it:
Talk about tamping (or tamping down) just about anything abstract: concerns, enthusiasm, expectations, fears, hopes, investments, spending, tension, violence, and so on. You can also say "tamp something down," as in "tamp the rebellion down" or "tamp the disease down," but that word order seems rare.
What are your best tips for keeping stress tamped down during high-stakes tests?
Whatever is tamping the price of gasoline right now, I'm grateful for it--though my Houston friends in the energy industry may feel otherwise.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "tamp” means when you can explain it without saying “tap down" or “reduce."
Think of something crazy you've thought about doing, and fill in the blank: "I've often wanted to _____, but I've managed to tamp down that impulse, so far, at least."
Example: "Ben has often wanted to walk down a grocery store aisle swinging a baseball bat and gleefully knocking down items from the shelves, but he's managed to tamp down that impulse, so far, at least."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for May is: “What Do These Words Have in Common?”
The three words given will have something specific in common. (More than one right answer might be possible, but I've only got one particular answer in mind for each set of words.) I've arranged the questions from easiest to hardest, so today’s should be difficult. By the end of the month, expect some whoppers.
What do these words have in common?: ambivert, realist, agnostic
Answer: All represent people whose ideas are in the middle between two extremes: an ambivert is between an extrovert and an introvert, a realist is between an optimist and a pessimist, and an agnostic is between a believer and an atheist.
Try this one today: chronic, pathological, apoplectic
A Point Well Made:
Andre Gide: “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”
1. The opposite of TAMP DOWN is
A. LOOK UP
B. DRESS UP
C. BUMP UP
2. Demand for the gadget was significantly tamped when it was revealed to _____.
A. cost half as much as expected
B. come in only five colors
C. break with the slightest jostle
Answers are below.
To be a sponsor and send your own message to readers of this list, please contact Liesl at Liesl@HiloTutor.com.
Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
Subscribe to "Make Your Point" for a daily vocabulary boost.