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discombobulate

[ dis-kuhm-bob-yuh-leyt ]
/ ˌdɪs kəmˈbɒb yəˌleɪt /
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See synonyms for: discombobulate / discombobulated / discombobulation on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), dis·com·bob·u·lat·ed, dis·com·bob·u·lat·ing.

to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate: The speaker was completely discombobulated by the hecklers.

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On the farm, the feed for chicks is significantly different from the roosters’; ______ not even comparable.

Origin of discombobulate

1825–35, Americanism; fanciful alteration of discompose or discomfort
dis·com·bob·u·la·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

BEHIND THE WORD

Where does discombobulate come from?

Discombobulate, meaning “to confuse, frustrate,” sounds like something straight out of a cartoon. It was first recorded in the form discomboberate in the early 1800s, and apparently originated as a humorous imitation of hifalutin-sounding Latin words. We can also detect  the influence of words with similar senses like discomfit or discompose in it.

Many more amusing Americanisms await in our slideshow “These Wacky Words Originated In The USA.”

Did you know … ?

Discombobulate has some shorter (but arguably less-fun-to-say) synonyms in baffle, befuddle, and frustrate.

Straighten all this discombobulation out with more synonyms on Thesaurus.com. Try the word confuse, for starters.

Discombobulate also has some notable pop culture connections. The score of the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes features a track entitled “Discombobulate,” composed by Hans Zimmer. That title takes its name from a line spoken by the title character during a memorable boxing match, which spawned a meme known as Discombobulate.

British Dictionary definitions for discombobulate

discombobulate
/ (ˌdɪskəmˈbɒbjʊˌleɪt) /

verb

(tr) informal, mainly US and Canadian to throw into confusion
C20: probably a whimsical alteration of discompose or discomfit
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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