: aghast \uh-GAST\ noun
: struck with terror, amazement, or horror : shocked
Critics were aghast at how awful the play was.
“As early as 1911, a pile-up of riders and horses during a horse race left Pendleton attorney and Round-Up organizer Roy Raley aghast and fearful that nobody would ever want to attend the Round-Up again.” — From a sidebar by Richard Cockle in The Oregonian, June 1, 2013
Did you know?
If you are aghast, you might look like you’ve just seen a ghost, or something similarly shocking. “Aghast” traces back to a Middle English verb, “gasten,” meaning “to frighten.” “Gasten” (which also gave us “ghastly,” meaning “terrible or frightening”) comes from “gast,” a Middle English spelling of the word “ghost.” “Gast” also came to be used in English as a verb meaning “to scare.” That verb is now obsolete, but its spirit lives on in words spoken by the character Edmund in Shakespeare’s King Lear: “gasted by the noise I made, full suddenly he fled.”
- Shakespeare, Updated (tisnewtothee.wordpress.com)