flabbergast

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Origin 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]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (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!"

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Noun[edit]

flabbergast (countable and uncountable, plural flabbergasts)

  1. (countable) An awkward person.
  2. (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?”

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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).

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