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[uh-gast, uh-gahst] /əˈgæst, əˈgɑst/
struck with overwhelming shock or amazement; filled with sudden fright or horror:
They stood aghast at the sight of the plane crashing.
Origin of aghast
1225-75; Middle English agast frightened, past participle of agasten, equivalent to a- a-3 + gasten, Old English gǣstan to frighten, earlier *gāstjan < Germanic causative *gaistjan; see ghost Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for aghast
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Historical Examples
  • "Nothing," said Mrs. Kenton, aghast at first, and then astonished to realize that she was speaking the simple truth.

    The Kentons William Dean Howells
  • Then, aghast at what he had said, he clapped his hand over his mouth.

    The Marooner Charles A. Stearns
  • The spectators recoiled, aghast with indignant astonishment.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • Winslow was hopelessly in love, when he found this out he was aghast.

  • Edward, startled and aghast, drew sullenly into the rear of the tent.

    The Last Of The Barons, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for aghast


(postpositive) overcome with amazement or horror
Word Origin
C13: agast, from Old English gæstan to frighten. The spelling with gh is on the model of ghastly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for aghast

c.1300, agast, "terrified," past participle of Middle English agasten "to frighten" (c.1200), from a- intensive prefix + Old English gæstan "to terrify," from gæst "spirit, ghost" (see ghost). The -gh- spelling appeared early 15c. in Scottish and is possibly a Flemish influence, or after ghost, etc. It became general after 1700.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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