To flabbergast - to overwhelm with shock, surprise, or wonder.

"I'm flabbergasted!" - I have only one friend who uses this phrase, so I can't figure out what kind of person uses it. Although NGram shows it to be on the rise, I never hear it from my acquaintances. Is it old-fashioned but coming back into usage? Pedantic? Refined? Educated? Gender-specific vocabulary? Questionable NGrams chart from books.google.com purporting to show growth in usage of the word flabbergasted since the early 1900s

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist, Kristina Lopez, Robusto, Chenmunka, user66974 Sep 18 '14 at 18:26

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    A tad old-fashioned, perhaps. Not pedantic or refined. If it's "educated" then I am flabbergasted by the state of educational systems. All in all, a fine word. – Robusto Sep 17 '14 at 16:10
  • 2
    What @Robusto said. My flabber has never been so gasted either. Women's language??? What's that supposed to mean? – FumbleFingers Sep 17 '14 at 16:16
  • 1
    @Luis: Here's what I say about NGrams in general. What I say about this one in particular is that you should take a close look at the magnitude of the numbers on the Y axis and see what conclusions you draw. – Robusto Sep 17 '14 at 16:42
  • 1
    Japanese men and women use different verb forms, pronouns, etc. Men tend to speak a "rougher" version of the language, although—as with everything in Japanese—much depends on one's relative status with respect to the interlocutor. – Robusto Sep 17 '14 at 17:49
  • 4
    @Luis: I'm neither a professional statistician nor a linguistics expert. But what I suspect that trend line shows is not that the term is used more, but that it is seen in print more. That could be the natural outcome of what once may have been a slangy term becoming more accepted, and books getting less fussy about using slang terms. But I wouldn't want to fall on my sword in support of this conjecture. The term is attested from 1772, and so one would expect its usage to grow if English found it useful, which apparently—and unsurprisingly—it does. – Robusto Sep 18 '14 at 1:10

I agree with Drew that it is "none of the above".

I would surmise that your friend is probably well-read, and perhaps even a bit animated, in general. Readers are exposed to a much wider variety of vocabulary, and it's always good to get more words out there in circulation. Glad to hear they were flabbergasted.

As an aside: My wife is a librarian...She's got some exceptional words.


The answers to your questions are:

  • No (not particularly old-fashioned)
  • No (not particularly pedantic)
  • No (not particularly "refined")
  • No (not particularly "educated")

What makes you suppose that it is any of those things?

Just because "[you] never hear it from [your] acquaintances" does not mean that others do not use it.

Here is a similar ngram for discombobulated, for your enjoyment.

  • "Just because "[you] never hear it from [your] acquaintances" does not mean that others do not use it." Good to know that. I was wondering whether my never hearing it might be due to the word being restricted to a special group: the aged, intellectuals. The person I sometimes hear it from, is a 71 year-old Canadian. So I thought it might be old-fashioned. I'm a non-native speaker who wants to know more. My questions may sound stupid but my intention is to learn. – Centaurus Sep 18 '14 at 0:00
  • 2
    FWIW, your questions do not sound stupid to me. This question is not stupid. I did wonder what made you suppose this (What kind of person...?). I guess it was based on your Canadian acquaintance and not hearing the term otherwise. It is good to pose the question to find out - far better than just going with a foregone conclusion based a tiny sample. I applaud you for that. And now you know. ;-) – Drew Sep 18 '14 at 1:37
  • FWIW ??? For whoever is wondering? For what it's Worth? Forgot where I was? – Centaurus Sep 18 '14 at 1:57
  • Sorry. Lmgtfy. – Drew Sep 18 '14 at 2:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.