Monday, 6 April 2015

Discombobulate - A Disturbingly American History

A discombobulated couple
Disturbed, nay, discombobulated by American vocab
(photo by Brian Talbot)

DISCOMBOBULATE

Verb trans. North American slang. Also -boberate and other variants. Mid-19th century.
[Probably alteration of discompose or discomfit.]

Disturb, upset, disconcert.

Dissatisfied with the already bounteous vocabulary bequeathed to them by their British antecedents, Americans in the 1800s took a fancy to absquatulating from the lexical norm and inventing their own frankly outlandish words.

Discombobulate is one of those words.

The discom- bit is probably drawn from the conservative likes of discompose and discomfit, while the -bobulate part is just pure unadulterated bunkum.

And I love it.


Does the American's renegade use of our language discompose, discomfit or discombobulate you?

Do please leave your most bobulated comments in the combobubox below.

2 comments:

  1. Only heard this word once before during my life, and that was in the film 'Sherlock Holmes' starring Robert Downey Jr. plus Jude Law. It was in a scene with a bare knuckle fight and one blow was to 'discombobulate' the opponent and set him up for the next more devastating one.

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    Replies
    1. I love that scene! Where Sherlock thinks through the consequences of each blow in advance of carrying them out. Brilliant!

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