discomfit

1 of 2

verb

dis·​com·​fit dis-ˈkəm(p)-fət How to pronounce discomfit (audio)
 especially Southern  ˌdis-kəm-ˈfit
discomfited; discomfiting; discomfits

transitive verb

1
: to put into a state of perplexity and embarrassment : disconcert
was discomfited by the question
2
a
: to frustrate the plans of : thwart
discomfit our foes
b
archaic : to defeat in battle
the ground … strewn with the discomfitedStephen Crane
discomfitingly
dis-ˈkəm(p)-fə-tiŋ-lē How to pronounce discomfit (audio)
ˌdīs-kəm-ˈfi-
adverb

discomfit

2 of 2

noun

: the state of being confused, embarrassed, or upset : discomfiture

Did you know?

Disconcerted by discomfit and discomfort? While the two look similar and share some semantic territory, they're etymologically unrelated. Unlike discomfort, discomfit has no connection to comfort, which comes ultimately from Latin com- plus fortis, meaning "strong." Instead, discomfit was borrowed from Anglo-French in the 13th century with the meaning "to defeat in battle." Within a couple centuries, discomfit had expanded beyond the battlefield to mean "to frustrate the plans of; to thwart," a meaning that eventually softened into the "to disconcert or confuse" use we find most often today—one quite close to the uneasiness and annoyance communicated by discomfort. For a time, usage commentators were keen to keep a greater distance between discomfit and discomfort; they recommended that discomfit be limited to "to completely defeat; to rout," but they've largely given up now, and the "disconcert or confuse" meaning is fully established. There is one major difference between discomfit and discomfort, though: discomfit is used almost exclusively as a verb, while discomfort is much more commonly used as a noun than a verb.

Choose the Right Synonym for discomfit

embarrass, discomfit, abash, disconcert, rattle mean to distress by confusing or confounding.

embarrass implies some influence that impedes thought, speech, or action.

the question embarrassed her so much she couldn't answer

discomfit implies a hampering or frustrating accompanied by confusion.

hecklers discomfited the speaker

abash presupposes some initial self-confidence that receives a sudden check, producing shyness, shame, or a feeling of inferiority.

abashed by her swift and cutting retort

disconcert implies an upsetting of equanimity or assurance producing uncertainty or hesitancy.

disconcerted by finding so many in attendance

rattle implies an agitation that impairs thought and judgment.

rattled by all the television cameras

Examples of discomfit in a Sentence

Verb constant interruptions discomfited her in her attempt to finish the speech, and she finally gave up he was discomfited by the awkward situation of having his ex-girlfriend meet his current one
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The title’s allusion to diary-keeping is on point: Ito’s vulnerabilities can be discomfiting to witness, even with her consent. Guy Lodge, Variety, 26 Jan. 2024 Watching this performance makes American Fiction a complex, sometimes discomfiting pleasure. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 15 Dec. 2023 Think of the 300-style bloodbaths, the discomfiting opening of Watchmen. Hemal Jhaveri, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023 Although some alumni were discomfited, the university’s endowment as well as corporate donations rose during his five-year tenure. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, 5 Dec. 2023 The results can be discomfiting, as when the camera shows us two characters sitting in a parking lot through a bank window, with a teller noodling around in the foreground. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 The covert operation in Sudan has jarred American officials already discomfited by the Emirates’ growing ties with Russia and China. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 29 Sep. 2023 But something about her public persona is also discomfiting, a reflection of an industry’s glorification of authenticity, which has created an environment where artists like Canal—and other young women, mostly—feel compelled to put their deepest insecurities on show for all to see. Hugh Morris, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2023 Earlier this year Aubrey Plaza, of White Lotus and Parks and Recreation fame, appeared in a commercial seemingly tailor-made for her deadpan, discomfiting comedic style. Natalie Angier, The New York Review of Books, 28 Sep. 2023
Noun
The discomfit of his rivals has been a political gift to Macron. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'discomfit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French descumfit, past participle of descumfire, from des- dis- + cumfire to prepare — more at comfit

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Noun

circa 1616, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of discomfit was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near discomfit

Cite this Entry

“Discomfit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discomfit. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

discomfit

verb
dis·​com·​fit
dis-ˈkəm(p)-fət,
 especially Southern  ˌdis-kəm-ˈfit
: to make confused or upset
the speaker was discomfited by the embarrassing question
discomfiture
dis-ˈkəm(p)-fə-ˌchu̇(ə)r
-fə-chər
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on discomfit

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