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[uh-ston-i-shing] /əˈstɒn ɪ ʃɪŋ/
causing astonishment or surprise; amazing:
an astonishing victory; an astonishing remark.
Origin of astonishing
First recorded in 1520-30; astonish + -ing2
Related forms
astonishingly, adverb
astonishingness, noun


[uh-ston-ish] /əˈstɒn ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to fill with sudden and overpowering surprise or wonder; amaze:
Her easy humor and keen intellect astonished me.
1525-35; Middle English astonyen, astonen, probably < dialectal Old French *astoner, Old French estoner < Vulgar Latin *extonāre, for Latin attonāre to strike with lightning, equivalent to ex- ex-1, at- at- + tonāre to thunder; extended by -ish2, perhaps reflecting Anglo-French *astonir < dialectal Old French
Related forms
astonishedly, adverb
astonisher, noun
superastonish, verb
unastonished, adjective
astound, startle, shock. See surprise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for astonishing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then with astonishing clearness he saw her hand resting against her breast.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • There is one astonishing instance of this towards the end of the drama.

    The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris
  • I am all impatience to hear how this astonishing change was effected.

    Lady Susan Jane Austen
  • It's astonishing how people forget the vital things, and remember trifles.

  • It was astonishing how quickly he blushed, how dark red his face became.

    The Dream Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for astonishing


causing great surprise or amazement; astounding
Derived Forms
astonishingly, adverb


(transitive) to fill with amazement; surprise greatly
Word Origin
C15: from earlier astonyen (see astonied), from Old French estoner, from Vulgar Latin extonāre (unattested) to strike with thunder, from Latin tonāre to thunder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for astonishing



c.1300, astonien, from Old French estoner "to stun, daze, deafen, astound," from Vulgar Latin *extonare, from Latin ex- "out" + tonare "to thunder" (see thunder); so, literally "to leave someone thunderstruck." The modern form (influenced by English verbs in -ish, e.g. distinguish, diminish) is attested from c.1530.

No wonder is thogh that she were astoned [Chaucer, "Clerk's Tale"]
Related: Astonished; astonishing; astonishingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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