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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web New wrinkles from opposing teams, meanwhile, have been a source of consternation. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC’s passing game has its limits in more ways than one," 18 Oct. 2019 High pay for city executives has been a major source of political consternation. Joshua Fechter, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg calls for end to bonuses for utility chiefs," 9 Aug. 2019 Mikey was able to mark their progress by the snorts of consternation that came from the invisible cows. Colin Barrett, Harper's magazine, "The Alps," 22 July 2019 From the widget wholesalers of Yiwu, south of Shanghai, to the halls of Communist Party power in Beijing, there is consternation that the trade war has dragged on for so long, and doubt that the next battle could be a turning point. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "In China’s capital of Halloween slime and ooze, the trade war is a scary subject," 30 Oct. 2019 From the widget wholesalers of Yiwu, south of Shanghai, to the halls of Communist Party power in Beijing, there is consternation that the trade war has dragged on for so long, and doubt that the next battle could be a turning point. cleveland, "In China’s capital of Halloween slime and ooze, the trade war is a scary subject," 30 Oct. 2019 For justice Thomas, his colleagues’ eagerness to speak at oral arguments has long been a source of consternation. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "US Supreme Court justices talk an awful lot during oral arguments," 26 Oct. 2019 There is consternation in the audience and some audible complaints, WVLT footage shows. Josiah Bates, Time, "'About As Ugly As You Can Get.' Critiquing 2020 Democrats, Tennessee County Commissioner Uses Anti-Gay Slurs, Racially-Charged Remarks," 22 Oct. 2019 Utter lack of consternation among those who are taking tea. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "What Is a Hit?: “Downton” vs. “Rambo”," 24 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about consternation

Time Traveler for consternation

Time Traveler

The first known use of consternation was in 1604

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about consternation

Statistics for consternation

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Consternation.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consternations. Accessed 25 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for consternation

consternation

noun
How to pronounce consternation (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on consternation

What made you want to look up consternation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

dull or mediocre

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!