I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. [...] , I screamed.

I thought of the word confused but I think it doesn't have enough intensity. Is there a word/phrase that means uncertain of what was going on?

  • (all) at sea, idiom.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 13:42
  • "Clueless" is the first word that comes to mind, though it doesn't quite fit the above context. Probably either "spooked" or "alarmed", as suggested below (though neither is especially satisfying).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 16:44

7 Answers 7


Bewildered might do the trick:

I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. Bewildered, I screamed.

Personally, I would use a word more synonymous to scared in this sentence, although I don't know what precedes it. Alarmed would most likely work as well.

The phrase put on edge implies intensity, and would fit in nicely.

I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. Suddenly put on edge, I screamed.


Petrified and Horrified would emphasize the fear factor more, while Perplexed and Clueless would emphasize the unawareness/uncertainty more.


“Uncertain of what was going on” - in the dark.

Here is a nice quote from Lemony Snicket's 'The End'.

So here is a little pun:

I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. Being in the dark, I screamed.


Although it may not be the best fit for "uncertain of what was going on," I think startled fits perfectly within the context of the sentence you include in your question:

startle: to do something unexpected that surprises and sometimes worries a person or animal.

I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. Startled, I screamed.


Consider befuddled

confused, muddled, addled, bewildered, disoriented, fazed, perplexed, dazed, dizzy, stupefied, groggy, muzzy, foggy, fuddled, fuzzy, dopey, woozy, befogged, mixed up



  • muddled
  • addled
  • bewildered
  • disoriented
  • dazed
  • stupefied

Perhaps "spooked [out]", "unnerved", or "freaked [out]"?

spook: frighten; unnerve: they spooked a couple of grizzly bears.

[ no obj. ] (especially of an animal) take fright suddenly: he'll spook if we make any noise.

unnerve: make (someone) lose courage or confidence: the bleakness of his gaze unnerved her | (as adj. unnerving) : an unnerving experience.

freak: informal behave or cause to behave in a wild and irrational way, typically because of the effects of extreme emotion, mental illness, or drugs: [ no obj. ] : I could have freaked out and started smashing the place up | [ with obj. ] : he freaks guest stars out on show day.


Unbeknownst! Unbeknownst to me, they had already left.. Works perfectly.

  • 2
    I don't see how this fits into the questioner's example phrase... "I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. Unbeknownst, I screamed."
    – Hellion
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:27

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