usage note for nonplussed
One explanation for the nonstandard meaning is the analysis of nonplussed as non- “not” + plussed, misinterpreted as “not puzzled or perplexed,” possibly on analogy with other words having a negative prefix and similar meaning, such as nonchalant. However, plussed has no real meaning in English. Rather, the adjective nonplussed was formed from the less common verb nonplus “to puzzle or perplex,” originally a noun meaning “a state of utter perplexity,” borrowed from the Latin phrase nōn plūs “not more; no further.” A state of perplexity is one in which no more can be said or done.
Words nearby nonplussed
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.)
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What are some other forms related to nonplussed?
- nonplus (verb)
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.
A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus crashed yesterday losing its entire load. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyses, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplussed…
— Ralph Nelson Willett (@NorthernOvation) March 28, 2020
Anyone else nonplussed about the penultimate definition of bemused?
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) April 17, 2018
Not reading into it, just observing, but man did the Clippers on camera look oddly nonplussed about losing that tough game
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 24, 2017
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.
How to use nonplussed in a sentence
Then he's quiet, while I, nonplussed, just stare until he adds, “The camera must never move.”Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days|David Freeman|December 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Nonplussed, he thought for a moment, smiled, and meekly confessed, “Nothing I guess—just boxing and my family.”Vitali Klitschko Contemplates Bowing Out of the Ring and Entering Ukrainian Politics|Gordon Marino|March 26, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Pinder, 29, appears to be nonplussed, telling the website, “The shoot is meant to be fun and very tongue-in-cheek.”Catholics Pissed Over Busty Model's Topless Pics Mocking Pope|Marlow Stern|March 8, 2013|DAILY BEAST
It was a Christmas present from my girlfriend, and when I unwrapped it, I was a little nonplussed.Maurice Sendak Didn’t Just Make Books for Children, but for Everyone|Malcolm Jones|May 9, 2012|DAILY BEAST
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.The Philippine Islands|John Foreman
Nonplussed, Matt came to a halt and waited for Clip to come up with him, wheeling his crippled one-cylinder.Motor Matt's "Century" Run|Stanley R. Matthews
I confess I was quite nonplussed for the moment as to how best to commence the attack upon this unexpected visitor.The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont|Louis de Rougemont
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.As A Chinaman Saw Us|Anonymous