View synonyms for nonplussed


[ non-pluhst ]


  1. completely puzzled or perplexed by something unexpected:

    She blows a hole in the wall and escapes, and the nonplussed aliens are left wondering what happened.

  2. not dismayed; indifferent or unexcited; calm:

    I hadn’t yet told my girlfriend I was leaving—I didn't want to risk being crushed by a nonplussed response to the news.


  1. the simple past tense and past participle of nonplus ( def ).

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Usage Note

The most common sense of nonplussed is “puzzled or perplexed”: Her odd choice of words left me somewhat nonplussed. But there is a more recent and less common usage with almost the opposite meaning, “unfazed, indifferent, or unexcited”: She remained nonplussed throughout the child’s tantrum, simply waiting till it was over. Although this second usage is gaining traction even in edited writing, many speakers and writers consider it nonstandard and avoid it as potentially confusing. There are several theories about how this contradictory second meaning came into being. One explanation is the analysis of nonplussed as non- “not” + plussed, interpreted as “not puzzled, perplexed, bothered, or impressed,” possibly by analogy with other words that have a negative prefix and similar meaning, such as unfazed and indifferent, and perhaps influenced by nonchalant. However, plussed has no meaning in English, and the non at the beginning is not in fact the common English negative prefix non- found in such words as nonalcoholic or nonexistent. Interestingly, the adjective nonplussed was formed from the less common verb nonplus “to puzzle or perplex,” which was originally a noun meaning “a state of utter perplexity,” and this noun was borrowed from the Latin phrase nōn plūs “not more; no further.” In other words, a state of perplexity is one in which the person can think of no more to say or do.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of nonplussed1

First recorded in 1600–10; nonplus ( def ) + -ed 2( def )

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Example Sentences

When I entered and told the person at the desk that I lived in Nova Scotia, the part of Canada closest to the largely uninhabited island, he was nonplussed.

Then he's quiet, while I, nonplussed, just stare until he adds, “The camera must never move.”

Nonplussed, he thought for a moment, smiled, and meekly confessed, “Nothing I guess—just boxing and my family.”

Pinder, 29, appears to be nonplussed, telling the website, “The shoot is meant to be fun and very tongue-in-cheek.”

It was a Christmas present from my girlfriend, and when I unwrapped it, I was a little nonplussed.

Attaullha, the TTP fighter, is similarly nonplussed by the lack of response to the raid.

This defiant answer nonplussed the rebels, who had private interests to consider.

Nonplussed, Matt came to a halt and waited for Clip to come up with him, wheeling his crippled one-cylinder.

I confess I was quite nonplussed for the moment as to how best to commence the attack upon this unexpected visitor.

The club coteries paused, the literary log-rollers were nonplussed, and Thackeray sat reading instead of writing.

The barkeeper was nonplussed, and asked what a tin-roof cocktail was.


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More About Nonplussed

what does nonplussed mean?

Nonplussed means totally perplexed, puzzled, or confused, often to the point of not knowing what to do or say.

Nonplussed is primarily used as an adjective, but it can also be the past tense of the verb nonplus, meaning to perplex, puzzle, or utterly confuse someone.

Sometimes, people use nonplussed to mean something like “nonchalant” or “unbothered” (as if the plussed part meant “bothered”), which is just about the opposite of the original meaning of nonplussed. But there is no adjective plussed. You’ll be a lot less nonplussed about all this after you read the origin of the word below.

Example: When his parents told him that they were moving the family across the country to start a skunk farm, Sam just sat there nonplussed, completely unable to process any of it.

Where does nonplussed come from?

The first records of nonplussed as an adjective come from around 1600. The word nonplus was originally used as a noun, and it comes from the Latin phrase nōn plūs, literally translating as “not more” and meaning “no further,” referring to a state in which nothing more can be done—a standstill. (The English word plus also comes from the Latin word plūs, meaning “more.”) Nonplus came to be used as a verb meaning “to bring to a standstill” and then “to perplex.”

Someone who’s nonplussed is at a loss, with “no more” to think, say, or do. They may be speechless from hearing shocking news, being tricked, or being asked a bizarre question. The same thing is implied by the word dumbfounded. A person who’s nonplussed isn’t just a little confused. They’re completely perplexed, puzzled, baffled, and bewildered—and they’re probably bothered by it.

The first records of the nonstandard use of nonplussed to mean “unfazed,” “nonchalant,” or “unimpressed” come from the 1960s, and it has become even more common since then. It’s often used in a way that’s just about the opposite of its original meaning, as in I’m nonplussed by all the attention—it doesn’t bother me at all. It most likely comes from the misconception that the non part is the common prefix non- meaning “not,” resulting in “not plussed.” But plussed does not mean “fazed” and it is not used by itself. (By contrast, you can be gruntled.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to nonplussed?

What are some synonyms for nonplussed?

What are some words that share a root or word element with nonplussed

What are some words that often get used in discussing nonplussed?


How is nonplussed used in real life?

Nonplussed meaning “unfazed” is probably used just about as much as nonplussed meaning “perplexed,” and there’s nothing you can do about it.



Try using nonplussed!

Is nonplussed used correctly in the following sentence?

The question left him completely nonplussed, and he just stood there with his mouth open.