"confound, confuse," 1852, a fantastical mock-Latin American English coinage from confound or confuse, originally in "Negro dialect" passages in works such as "J. Thornton Randolph's" pro-slavery "The Cabin and Parlor" (1852, a response to "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), picked up in London publications by the 1860s. Similar formations include confubuscate, conflabberated, etc., and compare discombobulate. Related: Confusticated; confusticating.
Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield discuss the history of the word discombobulate with Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer. For more on discombobulate, visit Zimmer's Word Routes column on Vocabulary.com.
Ever felt discombobulated while riding? I am pretty sure that is how I have felt the past couple of days. I am trying to achieve and maintain collection in trot. I know what I am supposed to be doing. I am supposed to release my tension and relax, while using my core and activating with my legs. I also know what I am not supposed to be doing. I am not supposed to be tense through my arms and resort to using too much rein when it feels like my horse rushes through my aids. Most of all, I am pretty sure that I am not supposed to be discombobulated.
1. Verb, base form The ease and instantaneous of modern ledger to ledger transfers can discombobulate individuals and businesses who do not keep their financial matters keenly organized.
If you discombobulated a thingamabob, would you absquatulate? What if someone gave you a bunch of pieces of old machinery and you screwed them up together to make a machine as curious as a Rowland Emmet fancy but less, um, obvious? But if you made some odd machine from assorted bits, would that be discombobulation or recombobulation?
I like feeling combobulated, nerved and plused. What? You don't get my meaning? How's this? I don't like feeling discombobulated, unnerved and nonplused. That should be clearer. But it's odd, isn't it, that these negative-sounding descriptors, the words with `dis' and `un' and `non,' exist but not their positive partners? And what about words that sound like inverses but turn out to be crypto twins, bone and debone?
This word is used three times in stage directions to describe the situation of three separate characters. Discombobulated means confused, frustrated and troubled. It is a less serious word to describe these states of mind, but it is still often used to describe a general state of being mixed-up and unsure. These three instances of discombobulation tell us a lot about the characters in the play, but also about the shades of meaning of discombobulate itself.
First is Albus Potter, who has the burden of going to Hogwarts being Harry Potter's son while at the same time being named after Dumbledore. Although the reader encountered Albus Potter at the end of the last Harry Potter novel, it is fair to say that the audience doesn't know him that well. Albus is described as discombobulated at the Sorting Hat ceremony. The Sorting Hat ceremony, in both the books and the movies, is treated as a magical, wonderful event, but for Albus, the pressure of his family is weighing on him and he is convinced he will be sorted into Slytherin, the house associated with Dark Magic. This would be difficult enough, but after his father was the hero of Gryffindor, the Sorting Hat ceremony is stressful and confusing for Albus, to say the least.
The tribulations of that morning left the boss and me pretty bushed for the rest of the week. By Friday, however, we were able to agree it actually does one good to be discombobulated now and then. Encountering the integrity of a job well done, by people who so enjoy being of service that they give more than you expect, is quite refreshing on any day -- but especially on a Monday. 781b155fdc