What’s Going On With ‘Nonplussed’?

The prefixes are treacherous little beasts. Just when you think you got it, prefixes like IN– will appear and take on meanings like “not,” “in, within,” “into,” “toward,” or “put into or onto.” And to make things worse, some word beginnings that appear to be prefixes are not prefixes at all, even if they seem to work the same way.

Why do we bring this up? Well, we don’t want to tell you this way, but we also don’t want you to hear it from other people. There’s a new sense of immaturity that people have been using, and…well, we just wanted to give you a fair warning in case the nature of our description prompts us to take action. This new meaning seems to stem from a mistaken belief that the first three letters of nonplus is there to indicate that someone is something that is not “plussed” (though what being blurred would entail here remains a mystery).

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Is he confused, or does he not care? We will never know.

Is there a little doubt? Are not IN nonplus is actually a prefix; This word appeared in English in the 16th century, and is taken from Latin no plus, which means “no more.” When it first appeared in our language, it was used as a noun, meaning “difficult”.

This was then and now the answer to that frivolous objection, and this is the Nonplus that Libeller praises.—Thomas Cooper, Advice for British people1589

I was taken to a place that was not luxurious, oh my God, what am I going to say?—Edward Hutchins, Davids Sling against the great Goliath1593

So now we have a lot of admiration for M. Deacon and M. Walker, who turned all the fools and lunatics into perpetually non-community guys who were otherwise their tongues. will be constantly disturbed.—John Darrel, Answer by John Darrel1602

By the beginning of the 17th century nonplus was used as a verb, meaning “to make one not know what to say, think or do.” Then, as now, the word was often found in the join form (immaturity), which is almost synonymous with “confused”.

This could be the Non-plust flirt taking a trick To break all Remora, All Fortune’s plot to deceive the crosses: and if the language fails, Here he can learn his way out court, triumph, despise my most eloquent races.—Achilles Tatius, The love of Clitophon and Leucippe1638

In the next three hundred and a few years nonplus still straight and narrow, avoiding the temptation of demonic rum and semantic drift, and as a result this has managed to keep its meaning appreciably unchanged. And then in the early 20th century, some people started using nonplus means “don’t worry, don’t care,” and since then the word hasn’t been the same.

I arrived just in time to see two policemen pushing their cars aside to let the fire truck near the post. Of course, anyone knows that in very embarrassing situations it is often said that one has to stay calm and smoke a cigarette.—The Pittston Gazette (Pittston, PA), August 15, 1930

The viewer on the right doesn’t seem confused by the game the posters present, but then—she’s just a mannequin.—Mason City Globe Gazette (Mason City, IA), April 16, 1948

EB “Buzzie” Barker Jr. The 12-year-old remained flustered yesterday despite the attention and congratulations he received for winning the Peninsula’s Soap Box Derby on Sunday. “I think we were more excited than it was,” his mother, Barton Barker, commented. “He barely cared about the whole thing,” she said, but didn’t finish.—Daily newspaper (Newport News, VA), Jun 28, 1955

The “no ripple” feeling of immaturity increased as the 20th century went on, although it was found that this meaning was unequivocally rejected as a mistake. It may be misleading, but the fact remains that the meaning of the word is in widespread use today, and can be found frequently in highly regarded and highly edited publications.

While senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials bristled at the diplomatic mess caused by the assassinations in Dubai, those who knew Mr. Dagan said he was unfazed by the controversy. —Time (London, UK), February 18, 2010

There’s also the awkward chatter of other blind novices, but we’re all really dependent on the voice of our instructor, Romeo Edmead, a strong, charming man, completely unfazed by the commotion around us.—Edward Rothstein, New York TimesAugust 19, 2011

If there’s a lesson here, it’s that you should never trust prefixes (or anything like them). It can leave you immaturity.

Categories: Usage Notes
Source: vothisaucamau.edu.vn

See more:  I Before E Except After C

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