agog and aghast

< Previous | Next >

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi, I ran across a term when in a verb phrase book:

"agog and aghast"


Because I don't understand what it means, I put it on the dictionary, unluckily, it seems not to be a set phrase, but more like a "compound adjective"(two adjs), so I respectively checked out the meanings of these two words:

agog:excited; eager to know or see more
aghast:suddenly filled with strong feelings of shock and worry

Whereas I really see someone use it:

This is a superb idea. I have found myself agog and aghast several times at "dumb Britain" and have to go for long walks in order to calm down.
Here is the address:
http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1220242

So my question is: what does it mean?

Thanks
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Agog means "full of interest, anticipation, extreme excitement". Aghast means "terrified, horrified; or struck with amazement". The writer was just using a cliche meaning "surprised, stunned, amazed". I don't think you'll be needing "agog" or "aghast" too often. They are not ordinary conversational adjectives here in the U.S. "Surprised/amazed" or "horrified/terrified" would be much more common. There's something a little humorous about "agog" and "aghast" that writers sometimes use deliberately in humorous articles, etc. That's how your writer is using it.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Agog means "full of interest, anticipation, extreme excitement". Aghast means "terrified, horrified; or struck with amazement". The writer was just using a cliche meaning "surprised, stunned, amazed". I don't think you'll be needing "agog" or "aghast" too often. They are not ordinary conversational adjectives here in the U.S. "Surprised/amazed" or "horrified/terrified" would be much more common. There's something a little humorous about "agog" and "aghast" that writers sometimes use deliberately in humorous articles, etc. That's how your writer is using it.

    What intrigues me is nothing but the phrase itself, agog and aghast, I suppose it shall be a set phrase, like "hither and thither", "hustle and bustle", etc, whereas these two words "agog" and "aghast" does have its own meaning , so I think the phrase has two meanings "excited and terrified" while "hustle and bustle" means "busy".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suppose it shall be a set phrase, like "hither and thither", "hustle and bustle", etc, whereas these two words "agog" and "aghast" does have its own meaning , so I think the phrase has two meanings "excited and terrified" while "hustle and bustle" means "busy".
    No, certainly not a set phrase in common use. I have never come across them used together before reading the link that you posted. I am not convinced that the poster in that discussion actually knew what "agog" means.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Silver. I agree with Andy and Loob that the writer didn't really know what those words meant. I did a quick Google check to confirm my notion that this phrase does pop up in literature from time to time, as I was sure that I'd seen these two semantically incompatible words stuck together. I came up with 11,000 hits, which isn't a huge number, but enough to confirm my suspicions that it exists in the vast corpus of bad writing. The following examples are typical:

    Seven normally calm aromatherapists all agog and aghast and doubting about what they were smelling. The only persons who got the scent correctly the first ...


    Jun 16, 2005 ... The blogosphere was agog and aghast in recent weeks about news that Dan Senor , former top spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority ...


    Dec 6, 2007 ... After our first 'lovemaking' session, she said, all shocked, agog and aghast "NOW I understand what you meant! I NEVER thought sex between ...

    I think I'm in agreement with both Andy and Loob that you would do well not to include this phrase in your own language: it really doesn't make sense.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I came up with 11,000 hits.
    Actually, if you click through to the last page (one of those things about the way google calculates;)), there are only 114 unique hits. Which is a very small number in the google-universe....
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Actually, if you click through to the last page (one of those things about the way google calculates;)), there are only 114 unique hits. Which is a very small number in the google-universe....
    Thanks for the tip, Loob. I knew I'd seen these two words together somewhere. I'm relieved to learn that their use is even rarer than I'd imagined with 11,000 hits. :)

    PS Almost all the "...agog and aghast..." references link to blogs. Perhaps these bloggers are influencing each other with nonsensical language.
     
    Last edited:

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Curious1: (Perhaps, this will make Owlman even more relieved :)) my search on Google Books yields 32 hits.
    Curious2: although I suspected what was confirmed by the native English folks, one of the hits is included in American idioms & useful phrase (by a non-native English speaker).
    Curious3: I ran another search on Google News this time which spat 52 hits of the wording in question. E.g.: The pols and the press are agog and aghast over a new survey that shows the public is far more cynical - three times more - about officials than are the hard-nosed newshounds. Source
    All that suggests to me that the phrase isn't a collocation as has been already said but may be consciously used by native speakers rather as, say, a personal choice of words to get across the meaning carried by them. What do you think natives?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    My best guess is that somebody picked it for its sound, as Loob noted in her remark about its alliteration. Now, I'm inclined to believe that people who are using it have probably copied the idea from others who used it in their blogs. Though I'm a fan of alliterative phrases: spic and span, clear and clean, etc., I don't like this one because you can't really be "terrified of" and "eagerly anticipating" the same stimulus.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    While the current users/creators may not completely understand the accepted uses of each of the pair, it is not "outwith the bounds of possibility" for someone to feel both emotions at the same time. There was a recent thread about a very similar state of mixed emotions.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    While the current users/creators may not completely understand the accepted uses of each of the pair, it is not "outwith the bounds of possibility" for someone to feel both emotions at the same time. There was a recent thread about a very similar state of mixed emotions.
    That's a good point, Julian. I should have said that I can't be frightened of and eager for the same thing at one time. I shouldn't make sweeping judgments about what my fellows are capable of.

    Looking over the uses posted on Google, I get the impression that most of the people who are using it think they're saying "amazed and amazed". I really couldn't find much in the contexts I looked at to suggest that the writers were talking about ambivalence. I did find a few quotes that might indicate that the writer was aware of the difference in meaning:

    I was inspired and impressed, in awe and appalled, aghast and agog,...

    We are aghast and agog. Mostly agog. Do photojournalists not cover Merrick's Julian Lane Park as they do East Rockaway's Bay Park? ...

    These sentences that seem to distinguish between the two words are rare. Most seem to use both words as "appalled" or "horrified", as though they were saying "aghast and aghast".
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Curious1: (Perhaps, this will make Owlman even more relieved :)) my search on Google Books yields 32 hits.
    Curious2: although I suspected what was confirmed by the native English folks, one of the hits is included in American idioms & useful phrase (by a non-native English speaker).
    Curious3: I ran another search on Google News this time which spat 52 hits of the wording in question. E.g.: The pols and the press are agog and aghast over a new survey that shows the public is far more cynical - three times more - about officials than are the hard-nosed newshounds. Source
    All that suggests to me that the phrase isn't a collocation as has been already said but may be consciously used by native speakers rather as, say, a personal choice of words to get across the meaning carried by them. What do you think natives?
    Interesting, Thomas! I've had a look through the Google News hits. I think that in a number of cases, the pairing is a deliberate choice to convey two distinct meanings. But I also get the impression that (1) there may have been, in the 1920s - 1940s, something of a vogue for pairing the two words, usually with the meaning "agog", sometimes with the meaning "aghast" (2) the pairing may be coming back into fashion:(.

    The only BrE Google News hit (click) is, I'm fairly sure, a deliberate choice. Which allows me <phew!> to stick to my statement that "agog and aghast" is not a set phrase:D.
     

    irinet

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    it could be an oxymoron? It's interesting that, though they are adjectives, they do not act like ones since we not use them before nouns!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's interesting that, though they are adjectives, they do not act like ones since we not use them before nouns!
    Hi irinet

    You'll often find that adjectives beginning with a- don't go before nouns: asleep, awake, alike....
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Thanks everyone for your input. :)
    Hi irinet

    You'll often find that adjectives beginning with a- don't go before nouns: asleep, awake, alike....
    I think this is especially true with the 'a-' of Germanic origin, originally meaning 'on'. On the contrary, the 'a-' of Greek origin, meaning 'without/not', paired with nouns is not uncommon.
     

    Wondermom

    New Member
    English - American
    Hello, I had to reply to this thread since I have been to Broadway and seen Les Miserables. "I am agog. I am aghast." is a direct quote from the show at the beginning of the Red and Black song. It is also on the CD. Just thought you'd like to know!
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Is "agog" a word that all native English speakers understand?
    Almost certainly not, hence the comments early in this thread about combining "agog" with "aghast". Is it a word that most native English speakers will recognise as an English word? Yes, I think so.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Which brings to mind the term "horrified fascination."
    That's how the O.P. phrase sounds to me too. Not that I've ever seen it used.

    I hear "all agog" used most often when someone is eagerly anticipating hearing a juicy piece of gossip.

    You say your boss is having an affair with the CEO's wife? Tell me more - I'm all agog.

    I wouldn't use it simply to mean "excited":

    We're going on a trip to America next week. It's our first time ever, so we're all agog.:confused:
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top