2

There isn't a lot to say, really, except that I just want to know the difference between the two words as verbs. I found that dictionaries give definitions so overlapping that the words sound as if they are 100% interchangeable.

closed as off-topic by Elian, Brian Hooper, user140086, tchrist, TimLymington Oct 31 '15 at 22:31

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3

The Grammarist makes an interesting analysis on the two terms. They suggest that as verbs they are essentially synonyms, but they underline some notable differences as nouns:

To discomfit:

  • is (1) to throw into confusion, perplex, or embarrass; or (2) to thwart or defeat, especially in military conflict. The second sense is the original—and a handful of people insist that it is still the only correct use—but the first is more common today and is rarely questioned. The word historically doubled as a noun referring to a discomfited state, but discomfiture eventually arose to fill this role and was firmly in place by the 19th century.

Discomfort:

  • is usually a noun referring to a state of unease or pain, but it also works as a verb meaning cause discomfort. The verb is somewhat rare, though, usually giving way to the two-word phrase make uncomfortable and other synonyms.

Comparison: between the two terms:

  • There is much common ground between the verb discomfort and the modern sense of discomfit. Of course, those who don’t accept the newer sense of discomfit would disagree with this, but in actual usage the words are mostly synonymous.
  • It’s possible to draw some loose distinctions between them, though: discomfiture is a mental state, while discomfort can be physical; and discomfiture in social situations often involves confusing or vexing behavior that is not necessarily unacceptable, while discomfort more often involves unacceptable, boundary-crossing behavior. But these are general, and no doubt exceptions are easily found.

Additional note:

  • A third verb, disconcert, is often lumped with discomfit and discomfort as a related source of confusion. Its main sense is disrupt the composure of. While in some narrow uses the word is not exactly synonymous with discomfit and discomfort, in practice there is often little substantive difference between them. Disconcertedness tends to go along with discomfiture and discomfort, and those states tend to go along with disconcertedness.

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