• flabbergast •
Pronunciation: flæ-bêr-gæst • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: (Slang) To astonish and confound someone to the point that they do not know how to react.
Notes: Unexpected confusion seems to be a common state of human beings, for English has a plethora of words referring to it: surprise, amaze, and astonish, indicate disbelief of something unexpected suddenly happening. Astound, bewilder, dumbfound and today's Good Word imply a confusion as a result of the unexpected. Today's adjective has a noun, flabbergastation, the act of flabbergasting or state of being flabbergasted. But then couldn't it also be the place to get a fill-up of astonishment? Maybe not.
In Play: Today's Good Word is a whimsical contrivance used in light, colloquial situations: "The price of gas this year flabbergasted many Americans." Indeed, it is a perfect time to use the noun of today's Good Word: flabbergastation. It is a poor reflection of our political system that we are flabbergasted at the amount of money pouring into political campaigns.
Word History: Today's word seems to be another of those lexical playthings that can be laid at the feet of the Americans. However, it first saw the light of publication in England in 1772 as a new piece of fashionable slang, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Its exact origin is unknown, though it is plausibly a nonce word contrived of flap or flabby plus aghast. (Join other verbiculturists today in our Alpha Agora to discuss further this and other fascinating Good Words in our series.)
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