Wednesday, June 11, 2008


"Nonplussed" does not mean what many of you think it means. If I read one more motherfucking blog where "I was nonplussed" is used as a synonym for "I didn't react" or "I remained unruffled" or "whatever," I am going to hunt the offending party down and bludgeon (tr.v. To hit with or as if with a heavy club.) him with my compact OED. You have been warned.

You miscreants (and you know who you are) are using a word to mean its opposite, and you're doing it without irony. If you hear a word for the first time, you have a responsibility to determine its correct meaning before you pass it along. Do not let the destruction of English be your fault.

For the record, here's a definition of the adjective:
filled with bewilderment; "at a loss to understand those remarks"; "puzzled that she left without saying goodbye" [syn: at a loss]

And here are definitions of the verb and noun forms:
verb, -plussed or -plused, -plus·sing or -plus·ing, noun
–verb (used with object) 1. to render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely.
–noun 2. a state of utter perplexity.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. We will return shortly with more dirty pictures and poorly edited ramblings.


John said...

Wow. If someone bungling "nonplussed" sets you off like that, I can't wait until you address the whole "begging the question" magilla. Or have you already held forth on that one?

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

I have not discussed "begging the question" here, but I have ranted at great -- but not surprising -- length on the subject at other venues. I don't trust myself to begin talking about that one, though, because a) I very quickly become apoplectic, and b) younger people simply will not accept that their usage of it is incorrect, which puts me back to a), only worse.

Truly, if you tell someone under thirty, or perhaps even thirty-five, that the phrase "that begs the question" doesn't mean "that raises the question," they'll tell you that you're crazy, and no amount of clear evidence will convince them otherwise.

Now please excuse me: I need either some high blood pressure medication or a stiff drink before I start on yet another rant about the utter absence of knowledge about logic and research among today's youth.

Sheepy said...

I now avoid using the word "nonplussed" since I assume it will be misunderstood.

It's sad.

Will said...

TV news anchors are constantly using "begs the question" incorrectly, which leaves me totally nonplussed.

Jason_M said...

Well, now that you're calmer, let's get started on "penultimate."

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

I've seen "penultimate" used incorrectly once or twice, but I wasn't aware that its misuse had become widespread. I will be on the lookout in the future, however. The notion that there are many people running about using that word incorrectly is very disconcerting.