Gobsmacked

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Dr. Goodword
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Gobsmacked

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri May 28, 2021 5:39 pm

• gobsmacked •


Pronunciation: gahb-smækt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Amazed, astounded, bumfuzzled, befuddled, flummoxed, flabbergasted.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a bit of British slang, interesting because it appears to be the past participle of some verb, to gobsmack, but isn't. It entered UK English as you see it above, though recently (1980s) the verb has been extracted from it, and now we hear such phrases as "she has been gobsmacking the punters". I see no reason why we shouldn't use the verb. Just remember that it is slang and shouldn't be used on job or college applications.

In Play: This Good Word is simply another entry in the catalog of words for total surprise, sampled in the Meaning above: "The world was totally gobsmacked in 2008 by the beautiful voice of Susan Boyle, the Scot heard 'round the world." Just remember it means the absolute limits of amazement: "The financial world was gobsmacked to learn that the largest investment houses on Wall Street went bankrupt the same year (2008)."

Word History: No one is sure why or wherefrom today's Good Word arose. There is an Irish Gaelic word gob "beak" which has been used in the past as a slang word for "mouth". This word is related to gab, something we all do with our mouths. The best guess is that gobsmacked is a compound of this word + smacked, originally meaning "smacked in the mouth". The origins of smack, too, present problems. It originally meant to make a popping sound with the lips, imitating excited eating. It might be onomatopoetic in origin, imitating the sound itself. However, German has a verb schmecken "to taste (like)" with a noun Geschmack "taste" that may be related, though it could have originated in the sense of "smack one's lips". (I was gobsmacked to discover that Barbara Kelly had suggested today's Good Word last December. That only magnifies our gratitude for your suggestion, Barbara.)
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bbeeton
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby bbeeton » Fri May 28, 2021 8:34 pm

I first learned "gob" as Navy slang for an ordinary enlisted sailor (or, also, "whitecap" in some parts of the U.S. that had a strong naval presence).

Since Britain was once a noted naval power, and experienced sailors are known for spinning yarns, the association with "mouth" is not far-fetched.

David Myer
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby David Myer » Fri Jun 04, 2021 8:33 am

Nice one Barbara. Only four degrees of separation in there:

Gob - sailor - navalpower - spinning yarns - mouth. I like it!

Philip Hudson
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:07 pm

Here in the hinterlands we say "I'm plumb stonnied!" It seems to have something to do with "astonished". My dear Aunt Vesta, the prim and proper, felt it a low expression indeed.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

David Myer
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby David Myer » Mon Jun 14, 2021 6:56 am

I too am stonnied. That there might be such a charming abbreviation not yet picked up in Australia (which specialises in charming abbreviations), is gobsmacking.

Philip Hudson
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:16 am

My cousin John lived for several years in Australia. He informed us of many unusual Aussie linguistic stretches as well as other strange doings. I can't go to Australia because a wild Cockney Aussie has sworn to tear out my guts and strangle me with them. That is for my saying that Cockney means rooster's egg --- which it does.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

David Myer
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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby David Myer » Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:59 am

Umm... I think there may be more to that story, Philip, than is explained here. Not sure what a cockney Australian is, but that anyone should make such an evil threat to a gentle soul such as yourself, indicates a story worth telling.

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Re: Gobsmacked

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:28 am

If one is a Cockney, he/she still listens for Bow Bells even when not in London's east end. Sort of fanatical. Cockney rhyming slang is mildly funny. "My Fair Lady" was an excellent movie. As the citizens said in Shakespeare's Caesar, "Peace, ho!"
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.


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