as·​ton·​ish | \ ə-ˈstä-nish How to pronounce astonish (audio) \
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 The strength and speed of tornadoes can astonish even weather professionals like Georgia State Climatologist Bill Murphey. USA Today, 17 June 2021 Joe Biden could take the key step that would allow America to once again to astonish with world with what free people can do. Robert Zubrin, Scientific American, 25 Mar. 2021 Palantir is capable of mining and aggregating data on individual people in a manner that would astonish almost anyone. Annie Jacobsen, Wired, 20 Jan. 2021 Fifteen are by Rembrandt, a number that seems to astonish even Kaplan. Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2021 The prestige networks continue to put out shows that astonish me with their raw honesty, drama and characters. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2020 Regardless, ravens continue to astonish people with their remarkable physical and social skills, adding fuel to a friendly argument among ornithologists and mammologists over who's smarter: birds or mammals? Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Dec. 2020 The dollar amounts of unpaid rent in eviction cases astonish even some veteran judges. Will Parker, WSJ, 13 Dec. 2020 Try one of these advanced-placement home hacks for results that will astonish. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, 9 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for astonish

Time Traveler

The first known use of astonish was circa 1534

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Last Updated

25 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Astonish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce astonish (audio) \
astonished; astonishing

Kids Definition of astonish

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

More from Merriam-Webster on astonish

Nglish: Translation of astonish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of astonish for Arabic Speakers


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