consternation

noun
con·​ster·​na·​tion | \ ˌkän(t)-stər-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce consternation (audio) \

Definition of consternation

: amazement or dismay that hinders or throws into confusion the two … stared at each other in consternation, and neither knew what to do— Pearl Buck

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Did You Know?

Wonder what the seemingly dissimilar words prostrate ("stretched out with face on the ground"), stratum ("layer"), and stratus ("a low cloud form extending over a large area") have in common with consternation? They are all thought to share the Latin ancestor sternere, meaning "to spread" or "to strike or throw down." Much to our consternation, we cannot make that sentence definitive: while prostrate, stratum, and stratus are clearly the offspring of sternere, etymologists will only go so far as to say that consternation comes from Latin consternare—and that they have a strong suspicion that consternare is another descendent of sternere.

Examples of consternation in a Sentence

The fact that the exact depth was recorded on the bottles was the source of considerable consternation among the admirals presiding over the Navy inquiry last week. The depth an attack sub can reach is supposed to be classified …  . — Karen Breslau et al., Newsweek, 2 Apr. 2001 In the grimy market-places where so-called friendly intelligence services do their trading, tip-offs, like money, are laundered in all sorts of ways …  . They can be blown up so as to cause consternation or tempered to encourage complacency. — John le Carré, Granta 35, Spring 1991 The King was relaxing; his face had softened. Awful, to have to banish this hard-earned peace, burden him with a fresh worry. But better he should hear it from his loyalest baron, his own brother, than have the news blurted out to him by some idiot agent avid to cause a maximum of consternation. — Colleen McCullough, The First Man in Rome, 1990 The candidate caused consternation among his supporters by changing positions on a key issue. Much to her parents' consternation, she had decided to not go to college.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That move touched off much consternation among his fellow forest preserve commissioners, who questioned his authority to declare null and void the festivities. Charles Selle, chicagotribune.com, "Selle: Great divide remains over course of county’s Civil War Days," 17 June 2019 There was a lot of consternation and concern around the use of Alcantara on the keyboard deck of the first Laptop. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review: if it ain’t broke," 16 Oct. 2018 It was nominated for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award (though it was beaten by Azul) and has started a groundswell of both praise and consternation. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "The Mind: Most polarizing card game of the year?," 4 Aug. 2018 The cancellation of the Roseanne revival has incited a media frenzy since last week, as a racist comment tweeted by Roseanne Barr has been met by consternation and controversy. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "Sara Gilbert Says She 'Stands by the Decision ABC Made' to Cancel 'Roseanne'," 4 June 2018 The trackpad, however, is going to cause consternation among some people. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "MSI GS65 Stealth Thin Review: This thin gaming laptop features 9th-gen Core and GTX 1660 Ti," 6 June 2019 The political advertisements have caused local consternation as well. Eli Rosenberg, The Seattle Times, "Republicans attack Jewish candidates, including Kim Schrier, with an age-old caricature: fistfuls of cash," 6 Nov. 2018 That’s causing consternation inside Mr. Widodo’s camp. Rizal Ramli, WSJ, "Indonesia’s President Suddenly Looks Vulnerable," 17 Oct. 2018 The revelations over the source has caused consternation between the Justice Department, Capitol Hill and the White House for weeks. Laura Jarrett, CNN, "Justice Department to show lawmakers classified materials on FBI source," 7 June 2018

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

1604, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for consternation

French or Latin; French, from Latin consternation-, consternatio, from consternare to throw into confusion, from com- + -sternare, probably from sternere to spread, strike down — more at strew

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Statistics for consternation

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for consternation

The first known use of consternation was in 1604

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More Definitions for consternation

consternation

noun

English Language Learners Definition of consternation

formal : a strong feeling of surprise or sudden disappointment that causes confusion

consternation

noun
con·​ster·​na·​tion | \ ˌkän-stər-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce consternation (audio) \

Kids Definition of consternation

: a strong feeling of surprise or sudden disappointment that causes confusion But then Dopey Lekisch called out in consternation, "The messenger himself will trample the treasure."— Isaac Bashevis Singer, Zlateh the Goat

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More from Merriam-Webster on consternation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with consternation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for consternation

Spanish Central: Translation of consternation

Nglish: Translation of consternation for Spanish Speakers

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