While reading Denial by Beverley McLachlin this week, I came upon the word nonplussed.
Nonplussed is one of those words that people don’t use in conversation. We are left to conclude its meaning from where we find it in writing. Up to this week, every time I’d read the word it had meant unperturbed.
In her book, McLachlin used the word in a way that did not mean unperturbed. Quite the opposite. Her character was taken aback and surprised by his circumstance.
Seeing this, I was taken aback and surprised. Nonplussed, as it turns out.
I said to my husband, “What do you think nonplussed means?”
“Surprised,” he said.
Huh. I touched my finger to the word in my e-book and selected “Look up.” The answer came:
I am not nonplussed (unperturbed) by these definitions. I am quite nonplussed (surprised).
What to do with a word with two opposite meanings?
May our politicians never make use of the term. Misunderstanding and world conflict could result.
No, no, nonplussed is a word not to trust.