Printable Version
Pronunciation: gahb-smækt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (UK Slang) Utterly astonished, astounded, flabbergasted, awestruck, gobstruck.

Notes: Today's Good Word originated in Scotland back in the 80s and seems to have only just arrived in the US (must have swum). But here it is now, alternating with gobstruck, a word that probably arose under the influence of awestruck, thunderstruck, starstruck, and the like. The verb to gobsmack has occurred but is rarely used. For that reason we are assuming that gobsmacked is, for the time being, a stand-alone adjective.

In Play: For some reason English speakers require a selection of ridiculous words to express the sense of awed: "I was completely gobsmacked to hear that Marion Kind was divorcing William Arami!" Today's word takes its place alongside flabbergasted and flummoxed, to mention just two: "Don't give me that gobsmacked look: I told you I was going to take out this wall and combine the living room and dining room."

Word History: Today's jolly word is clearly another gift from Kiltland, for the Scots use gob or gab as a slang word for "mouth". It probably came from Gaelic, for we find gob "beak, mouth" in Irish Gaelic. However, Old Norse had a verb gabba "mock, mouth off", related to English gab, which may have given rise to gob in the sense of "mouth". Etymologists are still working on this one. Smack has been around since at least the 16th century and no doubt arose from a Germanic word that was onomatopoetic, that is, an imitation of the smacking sound itself. (I must admit I was a bit gobsmacked to receive such a funny Good Word from Barbara Kelly, but my appreciation outweighs my awe.)

Dr. Goodword,

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