aghast

adjective
\ ə-ˈgast How to pronounce aghast (audio) \

Definition of aghast

: struck with terror, amazement, or horror : shocked and upset was aghast when she heard the news

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

If you are aghast, you might look like you've just seen a ghost, or something similarly shocking. "Aghast" traces back to a Middle English verb, gasten, meaning "to frighten." "Gasten" (which also gave us ghastly, meaning "terrible or frightening) comes from "gast," a Middle English spelling of the word ghost. "Gast" also came to be used in English as a verb meaning "to scare." That verb is now obsolete, but its spirit lives on in words spoken by the character Edmund in Shakespeare's King Lear: "gasted by the noise I made, full suddenly he fled."

Examples of aghast in a Sentence

The news left her aghast. Critics were aghast to see how awful the play was.

Recent Examples on the Web

Every profession has its own quirks—practices and norms that grow to seem unremarkable to insiders, but that leave those on the outside of the industry perplexed, or in a few cases, aghast. Fortune, "Want to Come Back to My Hotel Room—For an Interview? The Broadsheet," 4 Sep. 2019 Republicans in Congress were reportedly aghast — but almost all of them refused to directly criticize the president. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: The 2020 election is a fight for the soul of our nation," 23 July 2019 The response ahead When the dramatic numbers on NBA free agent contracts are revealed next week, the annual ritual will ensue of NFL players and media acting aghast at the numbers and, more importantly, the guarantees. Andrew Brandt, SI.com, "How the NFL Has a Softer Salary Cap Than the NBA," 25 June 2019 Chewning, who had recently renovated the Gritti Palace on Venice’s Grand Canal, was aghast. Dana Thomas, ELLE Decor, "Inside a Stunning Italianate Townhouse in Savannah," 12 Sep. 2019 Progressives were aghast, and when actress Alyssa Milano objected, Texas Senator Ted Cruz jumped in to support Schaefer’s argument (in less bombastic terms). Rich Lowry, National Review, "Yes, Gun Ownership Is a God-Given Right," 6 Sep. 2019 Many Zimbabweans who cheered the downfall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe two years ago are aghast to find the country’s economy even worse than before. Farai Mutsaka, Los Angeles Times, "Zimbabweans say their economy is worse than ever: ‘This is hell’," 25 July 2019 The Washington foreign-policy crowd, in which Trump fans are rare, is aghast. The Economist, "Why Donald Trump is unlikely to start a catastrophic conflict," 28 Mar. 2018 Longtime Biden allies were aghast at the rocky rollout and undisciplined performances. Philip Elliott, Time, "Why Joe Biden's Campaign is Struggling," 25 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aghast.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of aghast

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aghast

alteration (with h after ghastly, ghost entry 1) of Middle English agast, from past participle of agasten "to frighten, become frightened," from a-, perfective prefix + gasten "to frighten" — more at abide, gast

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aghast

Listen to Our Podcast about aghast

Statistics for aghast

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aghast

The first known use of aghast was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aghast

aghast

adjective
\ ə-ˈgast\

Kids Definition of aghast

: struck with terror, surprise, or horror The news left her aghast.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on aghast

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with aghast

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aghast

Spanish Central: Translation of aghast

Nglish: Translation of aghast for Spanish Speakers

Comments on aghast

What made you want to look up aghast? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!