I came across the following sentence in Washington Post:

Obama hasn't smoked a cigarette in about nine months, Gibbs revealed. "It was a commitment that I think he made to himself at the end of the health care and with his two daughters in mind," Gibbs said. "It's really stuck."

What does Gibbs' phrase, "it's really stuck" mean in this particular case? Please teach me.


"It's really stuck" refers to the commitment in the sense that Obama has "stuck" to his commitment. Sticking to a commitment means adhering to it or following or fulfilling it - remaining true to it, carrying it out.

Normally it wouldn't be remarked on unless it were thought a difficult achievement.

Gibbs has reversed the role of Obama in the sentence and made him the passive object and the commitment the active subject which is doing the sticking. The commitment has stuck to Obama. This is an interesting choice of construction and I wonder whether Gibbs really meant it that way. If Obama is merely the passive object to which the commitment sticks, it is perhaps less to Obama's credit than if he were the active party.

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    Also, in case it isn't obvious: it's = "it has" in this particular case. – Kosmonaut Dec 27 '10 at 1:01
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    Actually, the "it" here refers to the commitment (not to Obama), so "It has really stuck" means that the commitment has really stuck. (The consequence is the same as "Obama has really stuck [to his commitment]", but grammatically if the latter was the sentence Gibbs meant, he would have said "He's really stuck to it".) – ShreevatsaR Dec 27 '10 at 4:05
  • @ShreevatsaR: Thanks, you are right of course. I have amended my answer to reflect that. – RedGrittyBrick Dec 27 '10 at 10:45
  • Thank you very much RedGrittyBrick and ShreevarsaR. I think now I'm a little bit clear on "It's really stuck." Many thanks! – Yoichi Oishi Dec 27 '10 at 11:18
  • A minor point on the rest of the sentence: without actually checking on the context, I assume "... the end of the health care and ..." means "... the end of the health care [bill being processed] and ...". – Mark Hurd Jul 26 '11 at 5:03

The metaphor being used here is throwing something sticky (like say something with a suction cup on it). Often it takes multiple tries, as on the first few the object doesn't stick properly.

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