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NONPLUSSED -Tell Jason!

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Jason is a smart guy with a great vocabulary, but, if I'm not mistaken, he's misused this word on HDTGM multiple times.

 

nonplus

[non-pluhs, non-pluhs]

 

verb (used with object), non·plussed or non·plused, non·plus·sing or non·plus·ing.

to render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely.

 

noun

a state of utter perplexity.

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Yes, but it has been so misused at this point that it's now acceptable to use it to mean "unimpressed." As far as I'm concerned, as long as people understand his meaning, he is communicating effectively. Languages and definitions tend to evolve over time.

 

From Wikipedia:

 

In recent North American English nonplussed has acquired the alternative meaning of "unimpressed".[1] In 1999, this was considered a neologism, ostensibly from "not plussed", although "plussed" by itself is not a recognized English word. The "unimpressed" meaning is proscribed as nonstandard by at least one authoritative source.[3]

 

From Dr. Internet

 

non·plussed

nänˈpləst/

adjective

1. (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.

"he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea"

2. NORTH AMERICAN informal

(of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.

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Wow. I guess I stand corrected.

 

Although I really don't like the fact that so many people get it wrong that it's become acceptable? That's crazy. It's kind of sad really.

 

Plus this one word now can mean one thing AND completely the opposite of that one thing?

 

I don't like it.

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Plus this one word now can mean one thing AND completely the opposite of that one thing?

 

I know! It is "literally" the craziest thing I've ever heard ;)

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So are we saying Jason's use of "nonplus" is egregious? (Google that one and enjoy)

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So are we saying Jason's use of "nonplus" is egregious? (Google that one and enjoy)

 

That's just awful! Of course I am using "awful" in its original sense (I.e. "inspiring awe")

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That's just awful! Of course I am using "awful" in its original sense (I.e. "inspiring awe")

I know right? It's absolutely sickening!

 

okay okay okay I'm done

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So in North American we were like "Nobody in this country is using this word properly. F' it, we give up, just let 'em use it however they want."

 

Nice.

 

Let's just change supposedly to supposably while we're at it. And espresso to expresso.

 

And how about we make there, they're, and their interchangeable. That'll make it easier.

 

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills guys.

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Well, hang on to your butt because I'm pretty sure "peruse" is next. ;)

 

I mean, you're right. You are absolutely right. All I'm saying is that language evolves and definitions change over time. This is not a new thing. It's not a matter of being lazy or stupid. If anything, it's a matter of ignorance. The thing is, while this may be your personal bugaboo, when someone uses "nonplussed" in the context Jason does, their meaning is still clear.

 

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone ever use "nonplussed" correctly. I can guarantee you that I've never said it. Period. Like most people, there are hundreds of other words I would use to convey confusion or surprise (including confused or surprised) before I ever used nonplussed. In its original context, it's just not that popular of a word anymore. In fact, I can only think of three types of people who might us the word nonplussed. The first type is people like Jason who use it incorrectly, but their meaning is crystal clear - even to people who know otherwise. The second type of person is the type of person who simply doesn't care if their meaning is understood (e.g. "Even though there are less ambiguous words I could use right now, I'm using this word and fuck you if you don't understand that I mean 'surprised' and not 'blasé.' I'd rather be pedantic than speak with clarity.") The third type of person is someone who would use the word simply as an excuse to correct someone else (e.g. "It's a common mistake, but did you know it actually means...")

 

Bottom line: outside of school, we're not graded on our perfect and extensive vocabulary. And we certainly shouldn't be judged for it. What matters is being able to say a thing and have that thing be understood. I mean, if you really want to, you can go around correcting everyone that uses nonplussed incorrectly, but I feel like that's a losing battle that will only cause you an endless amount of grief and frustration.

 

To me, it's best to just remember that it's only a word. A stupid word that's probably not a part of anyone's daily lexicon. A word comprised of a combination of letters and sounds that ultimately only only means whatever we collectively agree that it means.

 

I'm sorry, though. Please don't lose you sanity over this. :)

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I do totally agree with Cameron that language is mutable and evolves with use. The evolution of a language means it is still alive and thriving. This is good, especially in English, which is a language that, in itself, is a conglomeration of Old English (a Germanic Language), French, and Latin, so meanings and pronunciations having been shifting and changing for millennia.

 

However........ I am a big fat hypocrite and the misuse of "nonplussed" really gets my goat. I put it on the level of "irregardless" annoying. Maybe it's because I've used (or at least known) the "correct" meaning since I was a kid, so hearing adults misuse it just confounds me. I am LITERALLY... mildly frustrated by the misuse of this word.

 

giphy.gif

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Quasar, you guys should start a podcast called "We're Nonplussed." Each week you chose a different misused word and educate us plebs on its proper usage. I'm literally on pins and needles waiting to subscribe ;)

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"Begging the question" is one thing I would definitely talk about on that hypothetical podcast. It's a phrase that is almost exclusively used incorrectly (by me too, I'm sure), but I find the historical source and original meaning way more interesting and way more useful. HELP ME EXPLAIN IT YOUTUBEZ....

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAXKc-rvMa8

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Regardless of the annoyingly slippery nature of the definition of the word, I feel like Jason would still appreciate learning about the original (and in my opinion correct) meaning of nonplussed. That's assuming he doesn't know already. Who knows, maybe he's completely aware of the debate/controversy of the word and is choosing to use it the way he does with total understanding.

 

If he's not aware I think he'd rather not be among those who say things like "old timers disease" and "Valentimes Day."

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obligatory David Foster Wallace essay link.

 

Did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of U.S. lexicography reveals ideological strife and controversy and intrigue and nastiness and fervor on a nearly hanging-chad scale? For instance, did you know that some modern dictionaries are notoriously liberal and others notoriously conservative, and that certain conservative dictionaries were actually conceived and designed as corrective responses to the "corruption" and "permissiveness" of certain liberal dictionaries? That the oligarchic device of having a special "Distinguished Usage Panel ... of outstanding professional speakers and writers" is an attempted compromise between the forces of egalitarianism and traditionalism in English, but that most linguistic liberals dismiss the Usage Panel as mere sham-populism? Did you know that U.S. lexicography even had a seamy underbelly?
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