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See also: non-plussed


1899 Welsh political cartoon, showing a bewildered inventor, entitled Non-plussed.


From an earlier verb form of nonplus, from Latin nōn plūs (no more, no further), early 1600s.[1][2] The etymological sense is similar to being left speechless as a result of confusion: the person can say or do "no more".



nonplussed (comparative more nonplussed, superlative most nonplussed)

  1. Bewildered; unsure how to respond or act. [from 17th c.]
    • 1724, Daniel Defoe, Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress:
      Note, the honest Quaker was nonplussed, and greatly surprised at that question.
    • 1835, Charlotte Brontë, chapter XXVI, in Villette[4]:
      “I could not discern what she meant, and I would not ask her: I was nonplussed.”
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 16]”, in Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483:
      For the nonce he was rather nonplussed but inasmuch as the duty plainly devolved upon him to take some measures on the subject he pondered suitable ways and means during which Stephen repeatedly yawned.
    • 2000, Marcia Miller & Martin Lee, Vocabulary, Word of the Day
      "Dad was so nonplussed by the new VCR that he gave up and asked Mom to set it for him".
  2. (nonstandard, chiefly US, informal) Unfazed, unaffected, or unimpressed. [from 20th c.]
    • 2002 April 14, Debra Pickett, “SUNDAY LUNCH WITH”, in Chicago Sun-Times, page 24:
      And while many of us might be a little taken aback if Mom showed up at our offices, Secrist is utterly nonplussed, even happy about it.
    • 2003 September, Gerald F. Kreyche, “John Charles Fremont; and the Exploration of the American West.”, in USA Today Magazine, volume 132, number 2700, page 52-57:
      One can not help but wonder how the unnecessary death of 10 men sat on Fermont's conscience. From all appearances, he seemed nonplussed and never was remorseful or contrite.
    • 2004 June, Jane McConnell, “Head Out!”, in Sunset, volume 212, number 6, page 140:
      My screams woke everyone [] . My brother-in-law, Mike, was nonplussed: “Why would you get excited over a little bug like that?”
    • 2022 August 14, Joe Shute, “The rise and fall of the pride that inspired the Lion King”, in The Daily Telegraph[5]:
      The lions in question were nonplussed. “They just stuck their noses into the wind, looked around and slumped down again into the grass,” the now 73-year-old recalls.

Usage notes[edit]

Since the late 20th century, originally in North America, nonplussed has acquired the alternative meaning of "unimpressed".[1] In 1999, this was considered a neologism, ostensibly from "not plussed", although "plussed" is itself a nonstandard word, seemingly a back-formation from nonplussed. The "unimpressed" meaning is described as nonstandard by the 2005 Compact Oxford English Dictionary.[3]





  1. simple past tense and past participle of nonplus

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 “nonplussed”, in The Mavens' Word of the Day[1] (in English), 1999-12-21, archived from the original on 2013-11-13, retrieved 2006-09-26
  2. ^ Mark Liberman (2008-08-06), “Nonplussed about nonplussed”, in Language Log[2] (in English), retrieved 2015-12-08
  3. ^ “nonplussed”, in askOxford[3] (in English), 2006, archived from the original on 2008-09-16, retrieved 2007-04-20

Further reading[edit]