[uh-gast, uh-gahst]


struck with overwhelming shock or amazement; filled with sudden fright or horror: They stood aghast at the sight of the plane crashing.

Origin of aghast

1225–75; Middle English agast frightened, past participle of agasten, equivalent to a- a-3 + gasten, Old English gǣstan to frighten, earlier *gāstjan < Germanic causative *gaistjan; see ghost Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for aghast

Contemporary Examples of aghast

Historical Examples of aghast

  • "No, no; thank you," gasped the boy, aghast at the reckless audacity of the proposal.

  • The wench came up soon after, all aghast, with a Laud, Miss!

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • When mamma saw the wide staircase leading to the dormitories she was aghast.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The spectators recoiled, aghast with indignant astonishment.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • I heard Cousin Egbert say with what I was aghast to suspect was admiration.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for aghast



(postpositive) overcome with amazement or horror

Word Origin for aghast

C13: agast, from Old English gæstan to frighten. The spelling with gh is on the model of ghastly
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

Word Origin and History for aghast

c.1300, agast, "terrified," past participle of Middle English agasten "to frighten" (c.1200), from a- intensive prefix + Old English gæstan "to terrify," from gæst "spirit, ghost" (see ghost). The -gh- spelling appeared early 15c. in Scottish and is possibly a Flemish influence, or after ghost, etc. It became general after 1700.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper