NPR logo And Your Word Can Sing

And Your Word Can Sing

Today, I'd like to introduce a new feature on Monitor Mix.

It combines two of my favorite things: music and vocabulary. I can't guarantee consistency or regularity with this feature; as with anything on this blog, it's dependent on my vicissitudes.

Basically, I'll pick a word — one I like, one I can't stand people using incorrectly, or one we just don't see enough of in musical contexts — and you can help by picking artists or bands who best embody this word. If nothing else, we might find new ways of describing the music we love or hate. Plus, the only thing worse than a music snob is a music snob who's also supercilious; who uses grandiloquent terms when in fact a pedestrian word would have done the trick. So we'll keep that in mind as we proceed.

Today's word is: "Nonplussed."

I love this word, but nearly everyone I know misuses it. I often hold my tongue when friends use it as a synonym for "ambivalent" or "unenthusiastic." I suppose it's an easy mistake; the word certainly sounds like it should mean "not excited." Well, it doesn't. Nonplussed means confused. Here's "nonplus," according to Merriam-Webster:

Function: noun
Etymology: Latin non plus no more
Date: 1582
Definition: a state of bafflement or perplexity

Function: transitive verb
Inflected form(s): nonplussed, nonplused, nonplussing, nonplusing
Definition: cause to be at a loss as to what to say, think, or do

There are plenty of baffling and perplexing bands out there, wouldn't you agree? But who is the most nonplussing of them all?

About