• Carmen Milligan

Wednesday Word: Nonplussed




  1. (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react. "he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea"

  2. NORTH AMERICAN informal (of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.

I am nonplussed that there are two definitions for this word, which happen to be the exact opposite of one another.

I asked a coworker, who is also a bit of a word nerd, about it, and he replied that he had "always thought of it as someone who isn't affected by an event". Just the opposite of how I have always used it.

I first came upon this word when it was used in a conference call at work (my last employer) concerning a new software program. Someone on the call asked a very rudimentary question, and obviously had not attended the mandatory training. The host of the call said, "I am nonplussed that you'd ask this question. Have you not attended the basic training?" I made a mental note to put this word in my arsenal.

And then, when I was challenged on the meaning, I looked it up, only to discover a completely opposite definition.

How is this acceptable??

You know what I am? Nonplussed to the point of being apoplectic!

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