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.

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 These attacks weren't meant to appall liberals; they were meant to entice conservatives. Grayson Quay, The Week, 21 July 2022 To borrow a phrase from 19th-century Parisian poets, Épater la bourgeoisie—to shock and appall the middle class. Dan Neil, WSJ, 23 June 2022 No television cameras documented the brutal violence or produced the images needed to appall Americans in other states. Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian Magazine, 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, 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, 30 Oct. 2019 But Ireland is also a relatively conservative country, and the idea of celebrating violence appalls many. Christopher Woolf, USA TODAY, 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, 27 Sep. 2017 And set aside demonstrable workplace problems from behavior that annoys or appalls you. The Seattle Times, 13 Sep. 2017 See More

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.

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," taken as an aphetic form of ap(p)allen, 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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The first known use of appall was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

27 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Appall.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for appall


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on appall

Nglish: Translation of appall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of appall for Arabic Speakers


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