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Gobsmacked

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  • A gob of something is a pile or lump. Gobs of something is a lot of that amount, though this usage is mainly in North America.

    gob may also be someone’s mouth

    To gob is to eject saliva from one’s mouth, or spit. This definition is mainly used in British English.

    In days past an American sailor could be called a gob, but this is largely out of use.

    Gobsmacked is an adjective in British English that means in awe or at a loss for words.

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    Another version of this adjective is gobsmacking. Usually things are gobsmacking while people are gobsmacked.

    The term’s origins are pretty literal. When people are shocked or in awe, they clap or smack their hands to their mouths or gobs.

    Another related term is a gobstopper, or a jawbreaker in the United States. The candy is round and hard, usually meant to be sucked on instead of chewed, effectively stopping one’s gob from other tasks such as talking.

    Some, mostly Americans, erroneously think that gobstopper must be capitalized because it was used as a candy name in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and Chocolate Factory for the everlasting gobstopper. However, Dahl did not create this word and even if he did, it is not a trademarked candy, as it is fictional.

    Examples

    A Scots bride was left gobsmacked when her celebrity heartthrob sent her a touching message on her wedding day. [Scottish Daily Record]

    For all of the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, gobsmacking images the Hubble Space Telescope has sent home over the years, the smudgy, black and white picture above right is in some ways the most important. [TIME]

     

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