Nonplussed?

Has the meaning of nonplussed morphed?  Back in grade school, it was a vocabulary word that meant confused or surprised to the point of being uncertain how to react.  I’ve read A LOT of fan fiction that misused it in place of nonchalant.  Has that caused the meaning to morph, at least colloquially in North America, to calm/casual/nonchalant?  I just read an ESPN article that used it in a context that is definitely the latter.

Or maybe that’s just more poor editing from ESPN.

2 Comments

Filed under vocabulary

2 responses to “Nonplussed?

  1. I read about this a while back. I can’t remember where, but I found a Slate article that talks about how meanings are changing for a bunch of words:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2011/04/the_nonplussed_problem.html

    The one that really drives me crazy is fulsome, but I’ve clearly lost all of these battles. I’ve even started using “beg the question” in the new way. Ugh.

    • Thanks for the link.

      I feel very get-off-my-lawn about some types of language change, mostly related to vocabulary.

      I have a colleague who uses fulsome and wholesome interchangeably as synonyms for robust. (Which should be a drinking game buzz word, given how people in my office use it.) But she also uses onus for onerous and volumous for voluminous.

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