\ 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

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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 The French commander of the military academy was aghast. New York Times, "A Far-Right Terrorism Suspect With a Refugee Disguise: The Tale of Franco A.," 29 Dec. 2020 In August, many state and local health officers were aghast about the CDC’s abrupt change to its testing guidance: People exposed to the virus but not showing symptoms did not necessarily need to be tested. USA Today, "How the CDC failed public health officials fighting the coronavirus," 11 Nov. 2020 The French press was aghast, but a pattern had been established. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Tiffany Deal Is a Signature Move by the Sun Tzu of Luxury," 30 Oct. 2020 All three cities were aghast at new local lockdowns imposed by the central government. The Economist, "Local difficulties Across the world central governments face local covid-19 revolts," 12 Oct. 2020 Public health experts are aghast at the way the administration is approaching the spread of Covid-19 within the highest echelons of the government and the Republican Party. Helen Branswell, STAT, "For many of Washington’s most powerful, Covid-19 public health guidance does not apply," 5 Oct. 2020 One woman was aghast to discover an oil slick and dead fish sloshing in her basement, bobbing along the scummy surface of the floodwaters like a toxic soup. NBC News, "'We've been forgotten': In Newark, N.J., a toxic Superfund site faces growing climate threats," 1 Oct. 2020 Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. Michael Kranish Washington Post, Star Tribune, "In secretly recorded audio, President Trump's sister says he has 'no principles' and 'you can't trust him'," 22 Aug. 2020 While Kashmiris were aghast as Mr. Choudhary’s picture displaying the certificate went viral on social media, many in Hindu-majority southern Jammu rejoiced. The Christian Science Monitor, "What India's new residency law means for Kashmiris," 4 Aug. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for aghast

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aghast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for aghast


\ ə-ˈgast \

Kids Definition of aghast

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

More from Merriam-Webster on aghast

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Nglish: Translation of aghast for Spanish Speakers

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