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From Middle English agast, agasted, past participle of agasten (to terrify), from Old English a- (compare with Gothic 𐌿𐍃- (us-), German er-, originally meaning "out") + gæstan (to terrify, torment): compare Gothic 𐌿𐍃𐌲𐌰𐌹𐍃𐌾𐌰𐌽 (usgaisjan, to terrify, literally to fix, to root to the spot with terror); akin to Latin haerere (to stick fast, cling). See gaze, hesitate.



aghast (comparative more aghast, superlative most aghast)

  1. Terrified; struck with amazement; showing signs of terror or horror.
    I was aghast when the incident unfolded in front of me.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act III, scene ii:
      Betraide by fortune and ſuſpitious loue,
      Threatned with frowning wrath and iealouſie,
      Surpriz’d with feare and hideous reuenge,
      I ſtand agaſt: []
    • 1902, Arthur Conan Doyle., The Hound of the Baskervilles:
      And while the revellers stood aghast at the fury of the man, one more wicked or, it may be, more drunken than the rest, cried out that they should put the hounds upon her.
    • 1985, Les Misérables, the song "Red and Black"
      I am agog! I am aghast! Is Marius in love at last?
    • 2003, Brian Herbert, “Xanadu”, in Dreamer of Dune[1], New York: Tom Doherty Associates, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 259:
      We sat at a long table with a huge salmon on a platter in the center, prepared Szechuan style. Dad sat at one end of the table, and regaled all present with his stories. In the middle of one convoluted yarn, he rose and went around to the salmon in the center of the table. Using his fingers, he dug an eyeball out of the fish, popped it in his mouth and swallowed it whole as we looked on, aghast. “A real delicacy,” he said, with a boyish smirk.
    • 2013 August 14, Daniel Taylor, The Guardian[2]:
      Hart, for one, will not remember the night for Lambert's heroics. Morrison, not closed down quickly enough, struck his shot well but England's No1 will be aghast at the way it struck his gloves then skidded off his knees and into the net.