Friday, April 25, 2014

Word of the Day: Gobsmacking

Gobsmacked Bill Gates: Even him?
My friend Doug Cumming, a journalism assistant prof at Washington & Lee University, used a word in his blog this morning that turned my head and stopped me right there: "Gobsmacking."

Here's the sentence, referring to a handout I gave his students during a talk yesterday th help with their efforts to start their own magazine: "When one or two of you actually do this in a few years, you’ll pull out the notes he handed out and see how gobsmacking on point [they] were, and are."

Lovely word, gobsmacking. explains it thusly: "Gobsmacked combines the northern English and Scottish slang term "gob," mouth, with the verb "smack." It suggests the speaker is utterly astonished or astounded. It’s much stronger than just being surprised; it’s used for something that leaves you speechless, or otherwise stops you dead in your tracks. It suggests that something is as surprising as being suddenly hit in the face." Kind of a Brit head butt, I'd say. (My ancestry is distinctly Scottish; clans Buchanan and Macquarrie, or the Americanized McCourry.)

He also called me a "raconteur." Not sure what to think about that. Fancy-schmantzy for "storyteller." But then, you gotta remember Doug's an academic, a journalist/academic if you're looking for today's oxymoron.


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