Definition of aghast
- was aghast when she heard the news
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The news left her aghast.
Critics were aghast to see how awful the play was.
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.
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."
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