ap·​pall | \ ə-ˈpȯl How to pronounce appall (audio) \
variants: or less commonly appal
appalled; appalling

Definition of appall

transitive verb

: to overcome with consternation, shock, or dismay We were appalled by his behavior.

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Synonyms for appall


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dismay, appall, horrify, daunt mean to unnerve or deter by arousing fear, apprehension, or aversion. dismay implies that one is disconcerted and at a loss as to how to deal with something. dismayed at the size of the job appall implies that one is faced with that which perturbs, confounds, or shocks. I am appalled by your behavior horrify stresses a reaction of horror or revulsion. was horrified by such wanton cruelty daunt suggests a cowing, disheartening, or frightening in a venture requiring courage. a cliff that would daunt the most intrepid climber

Examples of appall in a Sentence

The thought of war appalls me. It appalls me to think of the way those children have been treated.
Recent Examples on the Web No television cameras documented the brutal violence or produced the images needed to appall Americans in other states. Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Unsolved Murder of Civil Rights Activist Harry Moore," 26 Feb. 2020 Carpenter thrills rabid fans who know nothing about the organ or its music, and mostly appalls professional organists. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Conductor Kirill Karabits led a stunning half of a Dallas Symphony concert. The other half, well...," 28 Feb. 2020 Trump appalls many reasonable people by some of his antics and utterances, but his supporters are rock-solid at only slightly less than half the country, and enough to have got him elected. Conrad Black, National Review, "The Impeachment Farce Limps Along to Its Anticlimax," 30 Oct. 2019 But Ireland is also a relatively conservative country, and the idea of celebrating violence appalls many. Christopher Woolf, USA TODAY, "Ireland celebrates Che Guevara's Irish roots with a stamp, despite opposition," 16 Oct. 2017 Indeed, the decline of philosophy in American life would surely be among the things that would appall the Founders most about the country in 2017. Pascal-emmanuel Gobry, National Review, "America’s Francification: La Fin," 27 Sep. 2017 And set aside demonstrable workplace problems from behavior that annoys or appalls you. The Seattle Times, "Boss’s affair with co-worker turns team toxic," 13 Sep. 2017 The idea appalls Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, but was promoted by Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon. Trudy Rubin,, "Trump would be bonkers to listen to Blackwater founder's plan to use mercenaries in Afghanistan| Trudy Rubin," 18 Aug. 2017 His efforts to find one would likely provoke a Saturday Night Massacre-style cascade of resignations, which would appall Trump’s critics. Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, "Why Trump Might Fire Robert Mueller," 25 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'appall.' 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 appall

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for appall

Middle English apallen, appallen "to grow faint (of strength), fade (of emotions), dim (of honor, fame), (transitive) to make fade, allay, tarnish," probably borrowed from Middle French apalir "to become pale, make pale," going back to Old French, from a-, prefix forming transitive verbs (going back to Latin ad- ad-) + palir "to become pale" — more at pale entry 2

Note: The origin of this verb is not completely clear. In Middle English both ap(p)allen and pallen "to pall entry 1," of which ap(p)allen is taken to be an aphetic form, consistently show spellings with a double l that reflect short a, which is confirmed by the modern outcome [pɔl]; note the rhyme falleth / appalleth in Gower's Confessio Amantis. If Middle French apalir is the source, there would appear to be scant grounds for -ll-, as unprefixed palir yields Middle English palen, modern pale. In Anglo-French apalir is apparently unattested—or at least not entered in the Anglo-Norman Dictionary—though palir is occasionally attested with -ll-. Both ap(p)allen and pallen at a fairly early date show semantic extension well beyond the literal base "to make pale."

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Time Traveler for appall

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The first known use of appall was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Appall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for appall


How to pronounce appall (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of appall

: to cause (someone) to feel fear, shock, or disgust


ap·​pall | \ ə-ˈpȯl How to pronounce appall (audio) \
appalled; appalling

Kids Definition of appall

: to cause to feel shock, horror, or disgust She was appalled by their foul language.

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