I feel like there must be a word that encompasses the phrase "surprisingly stupid" completely. Obviously here, any synonym of "stupid" can replace it.

Example: "The ideal user range of this 'ergonomic' design is surprisingly stupidly narrow."

Here I'm trying to express not that the level of stupidity is surprising, but the presence of it being surprising.

Is there an elegant adverb for this?

  • in any informal context, a colourful simile would probably convey the element of surprise better than an adverb: 'as much use as a chocolate teapot'; 'as daft as a box of frogs'; 'as narrow as the neck of a vinegar cruet'; 'as thick as mince', etc. – ArchContrarian Oct 11 '17 at 11:35
  • This is what sentential adverbs are good for. Just move the adverb to the front of the sentence. Surprisingly, the ideal user range of this 'ergonomic' design is stupidly narrow." – Phil Sweet Aug 27 '18 at 20:36

I went and looked at synonyms for stupid at thesaurus.com, hoping to find one that also conveyed surprise to me. The best option, was ludicrous:

causing laughter because of absurdity; provoking or deserving derision; ridiculous; laughable

That definition doesn't really fit with "surprising". But I thought it was also worth looking, based on that definition, at absurd:

utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false

You could easily use either "ludicrously" or "absurdly" in your example sentence:

The ideal user range of this design is ludicrously narrow.

To me, they both convey some element of surprise, in that I interpret them to mean extremely stupid. "Ridiculously" would do the same. They may not provide the level of "surprise" you are looking for though.

  • +1 for ridiculously... to me it definitely implies both the stupid and surprising aspects. You need both to merit ridicule. – ArchContrarian Oct 11 '17 at 11:39
  • Thanks for this. Is there possibly a less intense version of absurd. The emphasis is more on the fact that I'm surprised at the occurrence of the stupidity and less at the magnitude of the stupidity which I've clarified in an edit of the question (I should have been more clear!). – Shiri Oct 11 '17 at 12:11


  1. Making one unable to think or feel properly.
    ‘the game ends with a sense of stupefying boredom’

1.1 Astonishing and shocking.
‘stupefying financial incompetence’

In particular the 1.1 definition entails the "surprising" quality you're looking for.

Pedantically, stupefying implies that it makes you (the observer) stupid, rather than whoever created the thing.

But there is a lot of leeway here as we're dealing with exaggerative language. Colloquially, it is often used to mean "with surprising stupidity", in the sense that it was so obviously stupid that I couldn't comprehend how they hadn't yet realized how stupid it is.

I'm trying to express not that the level of stupidity is surprising, but the presence of it being surprising.

This fits with the colloquial usage of stupefying.

Also note that the etymology reveals a similar intention:

from Latin stupefaciō (“strike dumb, stun with amazement, stupefy”), from stupeō (“I am stunned, speechless”)



so as to deaden the powers of the mind

  • As much as it's a synonym for stupid, I'm not sure this covers the 'surprising' component. – Shiri Oct 11 '17 at 11:16
  • Same sort of route as I went down, so I can't deny you a +1. – AndyT Oct 11 '17 at 11:20

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