The origin of the verb is uncertain; possibly dialectal (Suffolk), from flabby or flap (“to strike”) + aghast. The word may be related to Scottish flabrigast (“to boast”) or flabrigastit (“worn out with exertion”).
The noun is derived from the verb.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈflæbə(ˌ)ɡɑːst/
- (General American) enPR: flăb′ər-găst', IPA(key): /ˈflæbɚˌɡæst/
Audio (GA) (file) Audio (AU) (file)
- Hyphenation: flab‧ber‧gast
- (transitive) To overwhelm with bewilderment; to amaze, confound, or stun, especially in a ludicrous manner. [from late 18th c.]
- Synonyms: flabbergaster; see also Thesaurus:surprise
- He was flabbergasted to find that his work had been done for him before he began.
- Her stupidity flabbergasts me, and I have to force myself to keep a straight face while she explains her beliefs.
- I love to flabbergast the little-minded by shattering their preconceptions about my nationality and gender.
- The oddity of the situation was so flabbergasting I couldn’t react in time for anyone to see it.
- 1772, “Observator” [pseudonym], “On New Words; from the Same [Town and Country Magazine]”, in Edmund Burke, editor, The Annual Register, or A View of the History, Politics, and Literature, volume XV, London: Printed for J[ames] Dodsley, […], published 1773, OCLC 1779623, page 191, column 1:
- Now we are flabbergaſted and bored from morning to night—in the ſenate, at Cox's muſeum, at Ranelagh, and even at church.
- 1834, Jack Downing [pseudonym; Seba Smith], chapter XXV, in The Life of Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, Philadelphia, Pa.: Published by T. K. Greenbank, OCLC 3392356, page 183:
- They flabagast good manners and good morals, and only show that one of the parties is vex'd and disappinted.[sic]
- 1861 August, [David Masson], “Mr. Buckle’s Doctrine as to the Scotch and Their History”, in David Masson, editor, Macmillan’s Magazine, volume IV, number 22, Cambridge; London: Macmillan and Co. […], OCLC 1042245262, part II (The Weasel-wars of Scotland and the Scottish Reformation), page 316, column 1:
- Now, there are assertions, not dissimilar in their power of benumbing and flabbergasting one, but yet within the bounds of sane and perfectly orderly plausibility, for which our language wants a name. Paradox is too hackneyed a term. They ought to be called Buckleisms. When a man makes an assertion clean in the teeth of all previous belief, and makes it coolly, fluently, without proof, and yet as if contradiction were impossible—that is a Buckleism.
- 1896 August 22, [F. Anstey] [pseudonym; Thomas Anstey Guthrie], “Jottings and Tittlings. (By Baboo Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A.) No. XXI. Mr. Jabberjee Halloos before He is Quite Out of the Woods”, in Punch, or The London Charivari, volume CXI, London: Published at the office, 85, Fleet Street, OCLC 732224722, pages 88–89, column 2:
- At this I was rendered completely flabaghast—for, although the allegation was undeniably correct, I had confidently hoped that my friend Ram was unaware of the fact, or would at least have the ordinary mother-wit to refrain from blurting it out!
- 1915, Fyodor Dostoevsky, chapter X, in Constance Garnett, transl., The Insulted and Injured: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue [...] From the Russian (The Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky; VI), London: William Heinemann, OCLC 79706181, part III, page 243:
- Well, some degree of the same pleasure may be experienced when one flabbergasts some romantic Schiller, by putting out one's tongue at him when he least expects it.
- 1956, John T[homas] Flynn, “The Rabbits Go Back in the Hat”, in The Roosevelt Myth, revised edition, New York, N.Y.: Devin-Adair Publishing Company, OCLC 1428703; reprinted Auburn, Ala.: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2008, OCLC 781744842, book 1 (Trial—and Error), pages 50–51:
- He [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] loved to flabbergast his associates by announcing some startling new policy without consulting any of them.
- 2008, Harry Turtledove, The United States of Atlantis: A Novel of Alternate History, New York, N.Y.: Roc/New American Library, →ISBN, page 240:
- The idea may surprise you, but I intend that it shall flabbergast the poor foolish Englishmen mured up behind those pine and redwood logs. Flabbergast 'em, I say!
- (countable) An awkward person.
- (uncountable) Overwhelming confusion, shock, or surprise.
- Synonyms: astonishment, astoundedness, awe, dumbfoundedness, flabbergaster, flabbergastation, flabbergastment, stupefaction; see also Thesaurus:confusion, Thesaurus:surprise
- When I saw my house on fire, the flabbergast overcame me and I just stood and stared, too shocked to comprehend what I was seeing.
- His flabbergast was so great he couldn’t even come up with a plausible answer.
- 1868 February 22, Oliver Optic [pseudonym; William Taylor Adams], “Freaks of Fortune; or, Half Round the World”, in Oliver Optic, editor, Oliver Optic’s Magazine. Our Boys and Girls, volume III, number 60, Boston, Mass.: Published by Lee and Shepard, […], OCLC 1013420746, chapter XVI (Pistols for Two), page 117, column 2:
- Then quit your flabbergast, and talk in plain English.
- Jonathon Green, editor (2005) Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, 2nd edition, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, →ISBN, page 511.
- ^ William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Eli Smith, editors (1897) The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, New York, N.Y.: The Century Company, OCLC 2694351, page 2245, suggesting the second element of the word as derived from gast (“astonish”).
- ^ “flabbergast, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1896; “flabbergast”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
- ^ “flabbergast, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1896.
- John Ogilvie and Charles Annandale, editors (1883) The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, new edition, London: Blackie and Son; New York, N.Y.: The Century Company, OCLC 1013401246, page 285.
- “FLABBERGAST, v.” in Joseph Wright, editor, The English Dialect Dictionary: […], volume II (D–G), London: Published by Henry Frowde, […], publisher to the English Dialect Society, […]; New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900, →OCLC, page 376, column 1.
- Chrysti the Wordsmith [pseudonym; Chrysti M. Smith] (2006) Verbivore’s Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins, Helena, Mont.: Farcountry Press, →ISBN, page 126.