• agog •
Pronunciation: ah-gahg • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Excited, stirred up, thrilled. 2. Taken aback, wide-eyed with surprise.
Notes: Today's is a word many of us use without knowing exactly what it means. All the dictionaries claim that it means only "excited" as we have stated above. Its meaning is sliding a bit off center, however, as will be mentioned in the Word History below. It is a defective adjective in that it may be used only in the predicate of a sentence ('She was agog') and never before a noun ('*the agog girl'), like other adjectives beginning on a-: asleep, afloat, adrift.
In Play: Because the two meanings of today's Good Word are so close, they often blend together, giving us a complex palimpsest of meanings: "The children were agog at all the presents and goodies under the Christmas tree." However, visual surprise is not necessarily a part of the meaning of today's Good Word: "Maud Lynn Dresser was agog at the prospect of the spring cotillion, which was now only a week away."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the French expression à gogo "galore" as in vivre à gogo "to live high on the hog". It came from the Old French expression en gogues "frolicsome, mirthsome, in a festive mood". However, the association of the sound of this word with words associated with staring (to goggle, go goo-goo eyed, gongoozle, ogle) has led it to be used more and more in reference to seeing something surprising. French à gogo probably influenced English go-go as in the go-go dancers of the 60s. However, this word originated in the expression go-go-go, meaning always on the move, as 'to be a go-go-go girl all the time'. (Katy Brezger certainly leaves us agog at the intriguing Good Words, like today's, which she recommends.)