flabbergast

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The origin of the verb is uncertain; possibly dialectal (Suffolk), from flabby or flap (to strike) + aghast.[1][2] The word may be related to Scottish flabrigast (to boast) or flabrigastit (worn out with exertion).[1][3]

The noun is derived from the verb.[4]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

flabbergast (third-person singular simple present flabbergasts, present participle flabbergasting, simple past flabbergasted, past participle flabbergasted or flabbergast)

  1. (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.

Alternative forms[edit]

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Noun[edit]

flabbergast (countable and uncountable, plural flabbergasts)

  1. (countable) An awkward person.
    Synonyms: dork, dweeb, geek; see also Thesaurus:dork
  2. (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.
    • 1852 October, “Adventures of Tom Honeycomb—No. I”, in Yankee Notions, volume 2, number 10, New York, N.Y.: Published by T. W. Strong, [], OCLC 32423418, page 297:
      Her foibles were flattery, fine feeling, and flabergast; and if not old enough to be his mother, sufficiently so to be a young aunt.
    • 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.
    • 1998, James Carlos Blake, Red Grass River: A Legend, New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, →ISBN; 1st Perennial edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial, 2000, →ISBN, page 52:
      Bob's big-eyed flabbergast struck him as comic and he laughed and said, "Lying sack, hey?"

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jonathon Green, editor (2005) Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, 2nd edition, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, →ISBN, page 511.
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ flabbergast, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1896; “flabbergast” (US) / “flabbergast” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ flabbergast, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1896.

Further reading[edit]