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Dismay, as a noun, means:

Consternation and distress, typically that caused by something unexpected.

Is it correct to say that something is my dismay, (Rather than something happened in my dismay)? For example, would the following be correct:

The mentor abandoned me. He is my dismay.

(As in, the mentor caused me to be distressed).

Would saying that something is your dismay be correct, or how would you go about saying such thing?

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I think it'd be better to say, "He filled me with dismay." – J.R. Jun 7 '12 at 20:40
"I will be graduating dismay" :) – JeffSahol Jun 7 '12 at 20:55
@JeffSahol Hmm. Dismay be a wrong answer. – Jay Jun 7 '12 at 21:03
@JeffSahol- I graduated in disember. – Jim Jun 7 '12 at 21:27
Just to nitpick, happened in my dismay is just as incorrect as is my dismay. The idiom is to my dismay. – Marthaª Jun 7 '12 at 22:02
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It doesn't sound like something a native English speaker would say.

You could say: The mentor abandoned me. He is one of my stressors. Or you could say, Much to my dismay, the mentor abandoned me.

One more thing: people usually say things happen to my dismay not in my dismay. You could, I suppose, say "In my dismay, I wrote a sad poem." But otherwise, stick with "to my dismay."

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I'm going to upvote, but only because I really like "Much to my dismay..." (I'm not all that fond of "He is one of my stressors" – but I'll not let that offset my upvote.) – J.R. Jun 7 '12 at 20:48
+1 Thanks for the heads up! – JCOC611 Jun 7 '12 at 20:59
@J.R. I'm not fond of it, either. :) I was just trying to think of a way to somewhat preserve the OP's original sentence. – JLG Jun 7 '12 at 21:02

Basically: no. We would normally say, "The mentor abandoned me. He caused me dismay." Or, "He caused me to feel dismay." That is, "dismay" is a feeling. You would not say that a person or an event IS dismay; you say they "made me feel dismay".

Think of it like other words for feelings, like "anger". You wouldn't normally say, "Roger cheated me. He is my anger." You would say, "He caused my anger" or "He caused me to become angry."

(You might say something like "He is my dismay" in a song or a poem. But then you are being metaphorical.)

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+1 for the parallel with "anger". – Colin Fine Jun 7 '12 at 22:50
I really liked your analogy and then I realized that joy like anger is a feeling, and we often say of loved ones e.g. children, "They are my (pride and) joy". – Mari-Lou A Nov 24 '13 at 7:02
@Mari-LouA True. I think that's more an idiom then a literal use of the words though. Note that one would not normally say, "My son Bob is my pride" or "My son Bob is my joy". It's always, "... my pride and joy." The fact that it only makes sense when the specific combination of words is used is pretty much the definition of an idiom. – Jay Dec 12 '13 at 15:14

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