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How would Mark Twain have written "WTF!"
September 19, 2011 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word that would express your combined surprise/confusion/confoundment upon witnessing an event or situation? How would best express, in a single word, your brain's "WTF-moment"?

It's that moment when something isn't as it appears.... at. all. And when you think about it further, you can't comprehend how it got this way, or how anyone would have thought this made sense, or even what thought process they would have used to get to this point.

At first, I thought of the word 'ponderous', which is close, but not quite it. Old-timey words are perfectly acceptable.

What say you?
posted by Wild_Eep to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bewildered?
posted by SugarAndSass at 3:12 PM on September 19, 2011


"Dumbfounded?"
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:13 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dumbfounded.
Thundersticken.
Nonplussed.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:14 PM on September 19, 2011


Discombobulated.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:16 PM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Flummoxed?
posted by MoonOrb at 3:19 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gobsmacked.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:19 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gobsmacked.
posted by likeso at 3:19 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. So nice we named it twice.


Also like and use flummoxed. And um, ponderous is something else entirely.
posted by likeso at 3:21 PM on September 19, 2011


Floored.

(not as good as gobsmacked).
posted by evilmomlady at 3:22 PM on September 19, 2011


Maybe "stunned"?
posted by peripathetic at 3:25 PM on September 19, 2011


Flabbergasted. (Not sure of your association with "ponderous" here.)

Also, I just learned that "nonplussed" does not mean what I think it means.
posted by Specklet at 3:29 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Overwhelmed.
posted by pink candy floss at 3:35 PM on September 19, 2011


Why do I feel like only the Germans would have some sort of exacting word for this exact combo of emotional response? They're rather awesome at nailing down those specific emotional responses that English appears to find ineffable.

'Gobsmacked' and 'flabbergasted' fit as good as it gets, I think, but I'm wondering if you might have included 'ponderous' as a sort of modifier hinting at those heavy-duty, out-of-time moments of awe that capture your whole and complete attention and which you feel resounding in every part of your being. So, in that case, just 'awe' or 'awe-struck' kinda covers it.
posted by involution at 3:45 PM on September 19, 2011


Another vote for "flabbergasted", though I think I'd actually go with "confounded", which is in your original description.

But anyway, the most important thing is that you mustn't forget to cry "Inconceivable!"
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:52 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


A couple more maybe not-quite-exactly-there possibilities: 'befuddled', and 'stupefied' or 'mystified'.
posted by involution at 4:01 PM on September 19, 2011


I say stunned.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 4:08 PM on September 19, 2011


Astounded.

I don't this this applies here, but in Henry James novels, it's called the recognition scene, where, say, the heroine stays up all night piecing together previously unrelated minor incidents to arrive at the conclusion that her friends are betraying her.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:08 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


involution -- I think it's mainly that German creates compound words where we would use a phrase, perhaps with Biblical or Shakespearean origins.

Literarily, the moment of recognition is often termed an epiphany, but that almost seems like the opposite of what you're looking for.
posted by dhartung at 4:53 PM on September 19, 2011


Boggled.
posted by cyndigo at 4:56 PM on September 19, 2011


I will second flabbergasted.
posted by papayaninja at 5:03 PM on September 19, 2011


Blown away, astonished. dumbfounded, dumbstruck, floored, staggered, discombobulated, thrown, bowled over, rocked my world!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:53 PM on September 19, 2011


I personally say melon-boggled. But I don't suggest Mark Twain would have.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 8:42 PM on September 19, 2011


what
posted by Rock Steady at 8:46 PM on September 19, 2011


stupefaction
posted by fiercekitten at 9:18 PM on September 19, 2011


Astonishment.
posted by trip and a half at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2011


Confounded
posted by droplet at 9:44 PM on September 19, 2011


Bemused
posted by it's a long way to south america at 11:15 PM on September 19, 2011


Also, I just learned that "nonplussed" does not mean what I think it means.

Looks like you're nonplussed about the meaning of "nonplussed" . . .
posted by flug at 2:11 AM on September 20, 2011


Perplexed.
posted by tomboko at 5:17 AM on September 20, 2011


"Flummoxed" to me seems to carry more of a connotation of frustration, and less of shock. I would totally go with flabbergasted.

Both of those words are so great that I half expect someone to eventually tell me that they're based on some old racist term or something, but that's probably just my knee-jerk expectation that all of my favorite things eventually become unavailable.
posted by AugieAugustus at 5:45 AM on September 20, 2011


Gobsmacked is too British for Twain. He liked more German in his words....I vote for confounded.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:43 AM on September 20, 2011


incredulous
posted by jander03 at 12:23 PM on September 20, 2011


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