Word of the Week! Gobsmacked

Surprised faceAny readers from the UK may know this wonderful adjective that first appeared in a 1937 reference, according to the OED.  It’s slang, not academic language, but such a colorful term for  the more formal “astonished” or “astounded” that I would never correct a writer for employing it.

The gob in question is a mouth. It’s of Scottish origin. If you recall the Monty Python “Argument Clinic” sketch, where a customer accidentally walks into the room for verbal abuse you’ll hear “shut your festering gob” used as one of many insults hurled around. That was my first encounter.  Since then, I have heard “gobsmacked” many times in England and Scotland, not so much in Wales (which could be accidental).

Though it suffers from low frequency of use (2 of 8 at the OED) it appeared more in recent trips to the UK. Perhaps it’s simply too colorful to die out, as it expresses the sort of horror you’d experience from a slap to the mouth, delivered out of the blue.

Don’t leave me gobsmacked by telling me this word is bound to die. We need more fun slang like this on both sides of The Atlantic.

Special thanks to Dr. Kate Cassada, UR’s Department of Education, for nominating this word.

Nominate a word students need to learn by e-mailing me (jessid -at- richmond -dot- edu) or leaving a comment below.

See all of our Metaphors of the Month here and Words of the Week here.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.