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

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kenny4528, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. kenny4528

    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?

  2. 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.
  3. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    USA, English
    They mean the same thing in my experience.
  4. h_phe Member

    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."
  5. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    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".
  6. kenny4528

    kenny4528 Senior Member

    Mandarin, Taiwan
    A warmly thanks to all of you for your kind replies. It helped me a lot.
  7. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

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


    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... :(

  8. kenny4528

    kenny4528 Senior Member

    Mandarin, Taiwan
    Thank you very much for your examples, roxcyn.
  9. 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".
  10. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    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:

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