as·​ton·​ish | \ə-ˈstä-nish \
astonished; astonishing; astonishes

Definition of astonish 

transitive verb

1 : to strike with sudden and usually great wonder or surprise He was too astonished to speak They were astonished by the vastness and majesty of the cathedral. In retrospect, it astonishes me that we avoided a major quarrel for so long.— Christopher Hitchens

2 obsolete : to strike with sudden fear

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Choose the Right Synonym for astonish

surprise, astonish, astound, amaze, flabbergast mean to impress forcibly through unexpectedness. surprise stresses causing an effect through being unexpected but not necessarily unusual or novel. surprised to find them at home astonish implies surprising so greatly as to seem incredible. a discovery that astonished the world astound stresses the shock of astonishment. too astounded to respond amaze suggests an effect of bewilderment. amazed by the immense size of the place flabbergast may suggest thorough astonishment and bewilderment or dismay. flabbergasted by his angry refusal

Examples of astonish in a Sentence

Despite the hype, there was nothing in the book to astonish readers. The garden's beauty never fails to astonish.

Recent Examples on the Web

But as luxury goods prices continue to rise, and the number of one-percenters who move the needle shrinks, those breathing less rarefied air might be astonished to learn just how thrilling the rides have become for VVIPs. Horacio Silva, Town & Country, "The Experience Wars: Inside the Furious Fight for the Affections (and Dollars) of the World's Biggest Spenders," 20 Sep. 2018 When my first novel, Crazy Rich Asians, was published in 2013, many readers were astonished to learn that in Asia there were women who dressed in couture from morning till night. Harper's BAZAAR, "Crazy Rich Couture," 15 Aug. 2018 Lacey, a 2009 Harrison grad, said the support has been astonishing. Adam Baum,, "Important Sowders' keepsake among saved items in house fire, thanks to firefighter," 18 June 2018 Altmann was astonished by how much the granules looked like bacteria. Carl Zimmer, STAT, "Shot through with microbes: How our bodies adapt to a hidden world of bacteria," 30 May 2018 Inside, gleaming wood floors have been well-cared for, bathrooms feature claw-foot tubs, and the house boasts an astonishing seven fireplaces. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Historic mansion with 7 fireplaces asks $650K," 21 Sep. 2018 But LeBron James exists to astonish us, and will presumably not back down from the challenge to cement his legacy and win free tacos for America. Ted Berg, For The Win, "This Week in Taco Bell: LeBron is now 0-for-6 in chances to win America free tacos," 4 June 2018 But to hear such criticisms directly from Priscilla and Elvis’ longtime friend Jerry Schilling, both executive producers of the documentary, is astonishing. Kim Willis, USA TODAY, "How HBO's 'Elvis Presley: The Searcher' rethinks the second half of the singer's career," 13 Apr. 2018 On a large format IMAX screen, the Oasis is a technological marvel, the CGI avatars astonishing. Katie Walsh, idahostatesman, "‘Ready Player One’ can’t be a winner without stakes | Idaho Statesman," 29 Mar. 2018

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

circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for astonish

probably from earlier astony (from Middle English astonen, astonien, from Anglo-French estoner to stun, from Vulgar Latin *extonare, from Latin ex- + tonare to thunder) + -ish (as in abolish) — more at thunder entry 1

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Statistics for astonish

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for astonish

The first known use of astonish was circa 1534

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More Definitions for astonish



English Language Learners Definition of astonish

: to cause a feeling of great wonder or surprise in (someone)


as·​ton·​ish | \ə-ˈstä-nish \
astonished; astonishing

Kids Definition of astonish

: to strike with sudden wonder or surprise I was astonished to find a meteorite in my backyard.

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More from Merriam-Webster on astonish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with astonish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for astonish

Spanish Central: Translation of astonish

Nglish: Translation of astonish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of astonish for Arabic Speakers

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