Origin 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”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈflæbəɡɑːst/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈflæbɚɡæst/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Hyphenation: flab‧ber‧gast
- (transitive) To overwhelm with bewilderment; to amaze, confound, or stun, especially in a ludicrous manner. [from late 18th c.]
- 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, in Pall-Mall, 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.
- 1861. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Insulted and Injured. Kessinger Publishing. page 258.
- 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.
- 1926. Austin Harrison. Frederic Harrison: Thoughts and Memories. W. Heinemann. page 189.
- For instance, I could offend, shock, annoy, distress and flabbergast your father utterly in five minutes, but the more I tried to offend, shock, distress or flabbergast Henry James, the more disinterestedly sympathetic he would appear.
- 1956. John Thomas Flynn. The Roosevelt Myth. Ludwig von Mises Institute. page 50.
- He loved to flabbergast his associates by announcing some startling new policy without consulting any of them.
- 2008. Harry Turtledove. The United States of Atlantis. Penguin. 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!"
to overwhelm with bewilderment
- (countable) An awkward person.
- (uncountable) Overwhelming confusion, shock, or 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. Oliver Optic's magazine: Our boys and girls, Volumes 3-4 . Lee and Shepard. page 117.
- Then quit your flabbergast, and talk in plain English.
- 2000. James Carlos Blake. Red Grass River: A Legend. HarperCollins. page 52.
- Bob's big-eyed flabbergast struck him as comic and he laughed and said, “Lying sack, hey?”
- (overwhelming surprise, confusion, or shock): astonishment, astoundedness, awe, dumbfoundedness, stupefaction; see also Thesaurus:confusion, Thesaurus:surprise
- (an awkward person): dork, dweeb, geek; see also Thesaurus:dork
awkward person — See also translations at dork
overwhelming confusion, shock, or surprise — See also translations at astonishment
- 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”).
- 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.
- Joseph Wright, editor (1900), “FLABBERGAST”, in The English Dialect Dictionary: Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years: Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed, volume II (D–G), London: Published by Henry Frowde, Amen Corner, E.C., publisher to the English Dialect Society, Oxford, 116 High Street; New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam's Sons, OCLC 81937840, 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.