''I'm speechless.''and ''I'm at a loss for words''

kenny4528

Senior Member
Mandarin, Taiwan
Hi there,

As far as I know, speechless and at a loss for words seem to be interchangeable in all cases. For instance, I remembered hearing one of the 80th Oscar winners yesterday saying ''I'm speechless.'' when she was giving a speech on the stage. Does it sound totally the same if at a loss for words is used instead in this case?

''I'm at a loss for words''
 
  • klcfay

    Member
    USA English
    As an AE speaker "I'm at a loss for words" seems a little bit more formal. I can't think of any situation where the meaning would be different.
     

    h_phe

    Member
    PA
    USA, English
    I agree with you klcfay. "I'm at a loss for words" is a wordier (perhaps more poetic) way to say "I'm speechless."
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    As an AE speaker "I'm at a loss for words" seems a little bit more formal. I can't think of any situation where the meaning would be different.
    I agree with this. Speechless is a more condensed version of "at a loss for words". I keep thinking that in certain situations of being overcome by joy, or complete sadness, or being surprised, etc...that one is more used than the other. But I'll have to think about this for a moment.

    Otherwise, Kenny, I think it's pretty safe to say that in most cases.

    However consider the good example of irony in this line:
    What's a wordsmith to say when she or he is "at a loss for words"?
    "Loss for words" seems more creative than saying "speechless", because it highlights "words".
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    It can be used in situations where the speaker is shocked/surprised/saddened.

    Example:

    A) And the winner is....Ms Crow.
    B) Wow, I'm speechless/I'm at a loss for words/I don't know what to say/I'm shocked...

    A) My father passed away today (cries).
    B) I'm speechless, sorry... :(

    Pablo
     

    kenny4528

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan
    It can be used in situations where the speaker is shocked/surprised/saddened.

    Example:

    A) And the winner is....Ms Crow.
    B) Wow, I'm speechless/I'm at a loss for words/I don't know what to say/I'm shocked...

    A) My father passed away today (cries).
    B) I'm speechless, sorry... :(

    Pablo
    Thank you very much for your examples, roxcyn.
     

    xuliang

    Senior Member
    Chinese Mandarin
    HI, all. Is it natural to say "I am speechless at your behaviour."? For example, a friend told me she lost her purse in a park: She put her wallet on a bench and went away to play with her daughter nearby. She found her purse missing later. I think she should never leave a purse on a bench and then go away to play. I said to her :"I am speechless at your behaviour." or "I am speechless at you." (It's a bit negative here. )

    1. Are "speechless" suitable for my situation; is "at" correct there. Thank you.
    2. In Post#1, I think "speechless" is neutral there, just "at a loss for words".
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Are "speechless" suitable for my situation; is "at" correct there.
    I admit to being unfamiliar with "to be speechless at something"; I tend to want to say "to be speechless with something", which has a different meaning.

    However, I notice that PaulQ in http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/speechless-at.2552243/ is fine with the expression:
    It is quite common to be speechless at something - "A scream of delight from Rick, while I was totally speechless at the sheer size, at 41lb 12oz it was the icing on the cake."
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top