drum up » strum up

Chiefly in:   strum up support

Classification: English – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • “The morning I visited, he had unearthed 300 copies of letters Chambers sent, often while overseas for business, to strum up support for the bottle bill.” (link)
  • “They strum up support for their projects by concocting some unrelated, bizarre relationship between a group’s opposition and some other irrelevant issue” (link)
  • “LaMont says it wasn’t easy to strum up support, as people often do not consider film an art form and, therefore, do not think of donating to this industry.” (link)

The first cite is in a New York Times Magazine article. Googling on “strum up support” gets you a fair number of cites having to do with music-making, but also some, like the ones above, that don’t.

I wouldn’t have thought that the idiom “drum up” was so opaque that re-shaping was called for or that the sense of “strum up” (vs. down) used with reference to playing musical instruments would be salient to obtaining a goal by persistent effort, but the examples are out there.

[Addendum: Doug Harris on ADS-L, 13 June 2007, attempting to rationalize the eggcorn (which he hadn’t heard before), writes that it “makes perfect sense if referring to the effort stringed-instrument-bearing buskers, flower children and the like do to allow them to continue the lifestyle they’ve chosen.”]

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2007/06/13 |

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