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1580s, "pierce through, impale," from Middle French transfixer, from Latin transfixus "impaled," past participle of transfigere "to impale, pierce through," from trans- "through" (see trans-) + figere "to fix, fasten" (see fix (v.)). Figurative sense of "make motionless or helpless, as with amazement, terror, or grief" is first recorded 1640s. Related: Transfixed; transfixing.