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

Ugo Laffolay, of France, astonished the crowd by balancing on one hand atop a tower of canes and extending his body perpendicularly. Don Aucoin,, "A Cirque du Soleil show that’s as interested in ‘Ahh’ as ‘Wow’," 29 June 2018 The violence is astonishing: Clavicles are snapped, heads are stepped on, arms are broken, bones emerge from skin, blood runs into the dust and the men and boys keep going. Nathan Deuel,, "True grit in the modern American West: 'The Last Cowboys' by John Branch," 10 May 2018 Pirates rookie Nick Kingham astonished the baseball world by almost throwing a perfect game in his MLB debut. Stephanie Apstein,, "Pirates Rookie Nick Kingham Didn't Quite Throw a Perfect Game, But He Had a Perfect Weekend," 1 May 2018 Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Bernstein presents a column explaining that what is astonishing about Trump so far is just how across-the-board bad his professional reputation appears to be. Jonathan Bernstein,, "Jonathan Bernstein on a Reputation in Tatters (Audio)," 10 Aug. 2017 Even viewers familiar with those films will be astonished by the optimism of Eight Hours. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "When Rainer Werner Fassbinder cheered up," 17 May 2018 The story recounts the astonishing early life of Presley, whose pioneering recordings with record producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records propelled Presley to worldwide fame. Monica Mercuri, Billboard, "Sony/ATV Music Becomes Co-Producer, Investor of New Elvis Presley Musical," 13 July 2018 Gadi Gvaryahu shakes his head, astonished by the cruelty of those words. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, "Into dark cycle of Mideast revenge, this group tries to bring light," 28 June 2018 With sleek, contemporary design, neon couches, and high ceilings, RDG/ Bar Annie is a handsome space that serves some of the most consistently astonishing food in Houston. Houston Chronicle, "Cafe Annie," 27 June 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

11 Oct 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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Comments on astonish

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