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Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm feeling nonplussed

I now know why I never knew for sure what "nonplussed" meant.  It  now has two diametrically opposed meanings.  Worse, it might be impossible to tell which meaning was intended from the context.  

Today's WashingtonPost had an article about a hawk that had collided with a drone.  Here's the end of the article, a quote from the drone operator:

“Equipment is fine. The reason it dropped was entirely because my first reaction was to reduce throttle to reduce any risk to the hawk. It fell straight down,” Schmidt said in an e-mail. “The hawk seemed completely non-plussed; he flew off without any signs of damage.”

Here's what Google gives for the definition:

non·plussed

nänˈpləst/Submit
adjective

1.    1.
(of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.
"he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea"

2.    2.
NORTH AMERICANinformal
(of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.


So was he completely unperturbed, or completely surprised and confused?  I'll never know - the video stops on impact.

Lesson:  Stay away from this word.

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