Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. synonym: surprise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To stun, as with a blow; benumb; give a stupefying shock to.
  • To stun or strike dumb with sudden fear; confound.
  • To strike or impress with wonder, surprise, or admiration; surprise; amaze.
  • Synonyms Surprise, Amaze, etc. (see surprise); startle, shock.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To stun; to render senseless, as by a blow.
  • transitive verb To strike with sudden fear, terror, or wonder; to amaze; to surprise greatly, as with something unaccountable; to confound with some sudden emotion or passion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb surprise, flabbergast

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb affect with wonder

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration of Middle English astonen, from Old French estoner, from Vulgar Latin *extonāre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin tonāre, to thunder; see (s)tenə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From an alteration (due to words ending in -ish: abolish, banish, cherish, establish, furnish, etc.) of earlier astony, astone, aston, astun ("to astonish, confound, stun"), from Middle English astonien, astunien, astonen, astunen, astounen ("to astound, stun, astonish"), from Old English *āstunian, from ā- (perfective prefix) + stunian ("to make a loud sound, crash, resound, roar, bang, dash, impinge, knock, confound, astonish, stupefy"), from Proto-Germanic *stunōnan (“to sound, crash, bang, groan”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ten-, *(s)ton- (“to thunder, roar, groan”), equivalent to a- +‎ stun. Compare German erstaunen ("to astonish, amaze"). Influenced by Old French estoner, estuner, estonner ("to stun"), either from an assumed Latin *extonare, or from Old Frankish *stunen (“to stun”), related to Middle High German stunen ("to knock, strike, stun") and thus also to the Old English word above.

Examples

  • He hid himself, and worked always to astonish, which is an egotism, and therefore little.

    Uncollected Prose

  • He hid himself, and worked always to astonish, which is an egotism, and therefore little.

    Uncollected Prose

  • The Brits must use "astonish" differently than do Yanks.

    Cause and effect

  • He was far more inspired by avant-garde photographers such as Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch -- who instructed his students to "astonish" him -- not to mention the free-form improvisations of abstract expressionist painters, new American jazz and the Beat poets, all commingling in New York at the time.

    No Rose-Colored Filter

  • When heaven's vast orb first strikes th 'astonish'd sight.

    Poetical Sketches

  • _Zadig_, tho 'astonish'd to the last Degree, attended him to their last Stage, which was to the Cottage of a very virtuous and well-dispos'd Widow, who had a Nephew of about fourteen Years of

    Zadig Or, The Book of Fate

  • "astonish" them; and he thought, not without sadness, that when La Guepe should have published this young novelist's ghostly composition, the unconquerable bourgeoisie would know nothing about it, and would continue to devote itself to its favorite customs, such as tapping the barometer to know whether there was a change, or to heave a deep sigh after guzzling its soup, saying, "I feel better!" without being the least astonished in the world.

    The French Immortals Series — Complete

  • "astonish" them; and he thought, not without sadness, that when La Guepe should have published this young novelist's ghostly composition, the unconquerable bourgeoisie would know nothing about it, and would continue to devote itself to its favorite customs, such as tapping the barometer to know whether there was a change, or to heave a deep sigh after guzzling its soup, saying, "I feel better!" without being the least astonished in the world.

    A Romance of Youth — Complete

  • Hulk tales to astonish fully painted graphic novel

    Fully Painted | SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles

  • The energy, creativity, and enthusiasm they've given us with on this trip simply astonish me.

    Lindsay Maines: Creativity, Energy and Extra-Ordinaryness in Kenya

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