Stop using non-words like Gobsmacked

By | January 6, 2009

I dislike the recent increased British media use of the non-word “gobsmacked,” which means “stunned”. This not so recently invented word comes from another slang word “gob” which is a derogatory term for mouth. The idea I get from it is that one who is gobsmacked has had his or her filthy pie-hole hit with such force as to be left unable to speak, perhaps even bruised or with blood oozing from the impudent orifice.

The word reminds me of the musical Godspell which only had one good song, and seemed (due to the timing of when I saw the two as a small kid) to be a rip off of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which had several really good songs.

8 thoughts on “Stop using non-words like Gobsmacked

  1. dogsounds

    Recently invented? Pah!

    I’m 37 and I have been aware of “gobsmacked” for most of my life! IIRC, it came about in the ’50’s and ’60’s in Northern England. It’s a very Lancashire/Yorkshire phrase. Perhaps only recently (say in the last 20 years or so) it has appeared in our media to an international audience as it has become more popular in the South. Certainly, if anyone abroad watches something Northern like “Coronation Street” they will have become more than familiar with the phrase over the last 30 years or so.

    Personally, to me it sounds kinda stupid when a Southerner says it. It’s like someone from the South saiyng “‘appen” or “by ‘eck” or “well, I’ll get to the foot o’ my stairs” 🙂

    Have to say though, it is never used a a word to describe a violent act, as you seem to suggest. Although it means “stunned”, that’s stunned in the “surprised” sense, as in “When my six numbers came up in the National Lottery, I was gobsmacked”. It would not be used to describe an act, like “He was getting on my nerves, so I gobsmakced him” as that would not be correct.

    I love idioms and slang, and have a great time trying to explain some of the more obtuse ones to a dear German friend of mine 🙂

    And anyway, we’l stop saying it when Americans stop saying “quaint” or describing something lame as “gay” – lol

  2. saratoday

    Actually … Godspell was written in 1970 then opened on Broadway in May 1971, whereas Jesus Christ Superstar was released as a double-album in 1970 then opened on Broadway in October 1971. I’m such a geek – I should be gobsmacked.

  3. Xeno Post author

    My impression of the word seems to differ from the common use and I stand corrected on it being recent, yet I still imagine that boxer getting smacked in the gob every time I hear the word.

    Thanks for the info! I agree about “quaint” and “gay”.

    PS. While I don’t doubt the publication dates, I wonder why the Godspell wiki says it “opened a year after another religiously-themed successful rock musical, Jesus Christ Superstar”?

    PPS. Glad to hear you enjoy it! TV is on the way out, but the Internet lacks the shared social time that TV gives us. Commenting on odd news together seems like a great way to bridge the gap, spend some time, check our ideas against a larger reality and to make some new friends.

    Post Post Post Script: I’m falling asleep tonight with, “Day by day…” running in my mind’s ear. 😉 … followed by the entire JCS thing…

  4. saratoday

    To the PS: Strange, because the actual Wiki entry on JCS contradicts the statement. Hmmmm. Anyway, I love your blog.

  5. dogsounds

    ” yet I still imagine that boxer getting smacked in the gob every time I hear the word. ”

    Actually, “smacked in the gob” is pretty much the correct phrase, you would tend to use “smacked” when suggesting a blow to the mouthular region…

    In our colorful colloquial dialect however, especially when in, say, a pub, the only other word that would be associated with gob in place of smacked is as follows: you might say the boxer is being “twatted in the gob”. Not that that’s any better! 😉

  6. Festering Anger

    “Gob-smacked” and “smacked in the gob” are very different. The former means left stunned or speechless, while the latter requires dental work.

    Oh, and Godspell is far superior to JCS. I saw it recently in London, and it was just as good as when I saw it with David Essex in it in the early 70s. It’s full of happy songs, not dirges.

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