Is there a better word for the following example than astonished?

I was astonished at the lack of respect Joe showed to his parents.

I’m trying to use the word astonished in a sentence, but I want to convey that I am surprised at a negative outcome. Here, the lack of respect towards one’s parents is the negative part, but astonished is neutral, not negative.


3 Answers 3


Aghast: "filled with horror or shock: when the news came out they were aghast." (New Oxford American Dictionary) This is quite a strong word, but I think it fits the bill nicely.

Dumbfounded: "greatly astonish or amaze: they were dumbfounded at his popularity." (New Oxford American Dictionary) Although it doesn't necessarily suggest a negative outcome, I think it does generally carry connotations of nonplussed bemusement.

As others have already mentioned, there's also appalled and nonplussed.


I agree with appalled. I think that it’s the best word for the context you’ve given.

Here’s an interesting diagram for you! It displays several versions of emotions. Maybe you will find it useful.

Edit: Under the category 'surprise,' the wheel lists startled, confused, amazed, excited, shocked, dismayed, disillusioned, perplexed, astonished, awe, eager, and energetic.

I apologize for not summarizing the link originally.


Shocked would be appropriate. It generally has negative connotations — as opposed to surprised, which has positive connotations.

  • 1
    Hi Vicki, welcome to ELU! Could you please fill out your answer with more “meat”? We strongly prefer longer answers with documented references, citations, and even links where possible (but not just a link, just a link to where you took your reference from if one exists). Thanks!!
    – tchrist
    Jul 24, 2016 at 16:35

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