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

President Donald Trump tweeted his consternation, accusing the ECB of waging a currency war and once again attacking his own country’s Federal Reserve. The Economist, "The ECB cuts interest rates and restarts quantitative easing," 12 Sep. 2019 Thus, the State Medical Board of Ohio is relying on traditional medicine, to the consternation of parents such as Carrie Taylor, a resident of Marysville outside Columbus, whose 8-year-old twins have autism. Laura Hancock, cleveland.com, "Board rejects Ohio medical marijuana for autism and anxiety, sides with traditional medicine," 11 Sep. 2019 The legislation has been opposed—to the consternation of many proponents—by certain members of Congress, especially Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Only One Republican Supported That Divisive Election Security Bill. Here’s Why He Voted in Favor—Cyber Saturday," 17 Aug. 2019 Individually, the greatest impression is made by Judy Mina-Ballard as a chatty second-class passenger eager to rub elbows with the first-class folks to the consternation of her merchant husband (Gary Severn). Tom Titus, Daily Pilot, "On Theater: A ‘Titanic’ hit musical at the Attic Community Theatre," 12 Aug. 2019 By dumb luck, and to the consternation of Bush, Obama, and John McCain, America was saved from the catastrophe of Islamist rule in Egypt. Conrad Black, National Review, "A Strong U.S. Needs a Strong U.K.," 11 July 2019 To the consternation of many royal-watchers, the couple chose to reveal the baby two days after the birth instead of presenting the baby at the maternity ward. Heather Brady, National Geographic, "Vintage photos of royal families from all over the world," 8 May 2019 Then in late 2017 a rumor spread, to the consternation of many number theorists, that Mochizuki’s papers had been accepted for publication. Quanta Magazine, "Titans of Mathematics Clash Over Epic Proof of ABC Conjecture," 20 Sep. 2018 The intention, Mr Biswas says, is to provide a place where foreigners can safely behave in ways that might cause consternation in other, more conservative parts of the country. The Economist, "Domestic travellers have revived Bangladesh’s tourism industry," 7 June 2019

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

1 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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