Chagrined and Nonplussed

These are two bad feelings to experience.

Many people think CHAGRIN means a feeling of sadness, but it actually means  embarrassment or humiliation as a result of failure:

Larry was chagrined when he failed to get a minimum passing score on the chemistry final.

If you are NONPLUSSED (this can also be spelled with one S, although two are preferred), you feel confused and don’t know how to act:

Nonplussed, Larry thought he would be the valedictorian, but stunned by his failing chemistry grade he gradually acknowledged that honor was not to be his.

You may be aware that a different meaning for “nonplussed” is starting to overtake the original meaning as a result of common usage: people are using the word to indicate a lack of concern or caring, which is the opposite of the word’s original meaning:

Larry was nonplussed after he failed the chemistry exam because he hadn’t cared whether he made valedictorian.

This other usage is still cited in dictionaries by a note indicating that it is not yet standard; but my bet is that within 10 years it will have overtaken the historical definition. All languages change.

 

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