Here’s the twitter conversation between me and my friend Steven (aka Snay2).

Me: Just used the word flabbergast in my story as a noun and not a verb. Why that’s cool, don’t know. But my writer friends may think it is.

Snay2: @tbronley So what exactly is a/the flabbergast?

Me: @snay2 I cannot define 11-letter words in 140 characters. It’s just not possible 🙂

Snay2: @tbronley How about a blog post?

Me: @snay2 Oo….that wins! Be prepared to be mesmerized by my story-weaving abilities to define a simple word.

Snay2: @tbronley I await it with eager anticipation 🙂

Are you prepared to be mesmerized?

To be flabbergasted is to be overcome with surprise and bewilderment (as per dictionary.com). Imagine, if you would, things that can flabbergast you (this is leading to something.) Let’s start with this: the IRS calls you up and says “Um…we made a mistake and we owe you $50,000.” (Of course, Bill Engvall calls that awesome. Point stands.) How about if you find out that you wrote a book that you hated and someone you know secretly sent it to an agent who returned with a “Yes, I want to represent you. (This publisher) is already interested in it.” Now that would flabbergast you.

Now, I’ve given some verb examples here. The sentence I used (and probably inappropriately) this word as a noun is “His eyes went wide with shock and flabbergast.” What I am trying to express with this is my character in question has a look that tells everyone he is momentarily speechless. Shock doesn’t necessarily make you speechless, but a flabbergast-filled emotion does. I am trying to use it as a noun to give that impression. Is it the most appropriate? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing that is great about the English language is that certain nouns can be used as verbs (i.e. “I’m going to Google that”) and some verbs can be used as nouns (nothing else comes to mind at the moment, so you’re out of luck.)

So, what is your favorite noun or verb that you use differently?

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


4 Responses

  1. I will say I like “flabbergast” better than “flabbergastion” or “flabbergastation” or “flabbergasty.” Good choice.

    You’ve got lots of -ing verbs used as nouns (gerunds) of course, but those aren’t really the same as what you’re talking about.

    I did find a few here: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/careful-with-words-used-as-noun-and-verb/

    • Yeah, at least flabbergast doesn’t sound like some sort of internal gas related word like those others you gave. Especially flabbergasty. That sounds horrible.

      • I agree.

        So now all we’ve got to do is use that word enough that it catches on and gets canonized. 🙂

  2. Flabbergastation would definitely be my guess.

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