Discombobulated - Word of the Week

Definition: Discombobulated

Adjective: Confused, disorganized, or in a scattered state of mind

Verb (Discombobulate): To break apart or cause chaos

Antonym (Recombobulated): Having calmed down or regained composure

Example: "I was very discombobulated after my 22 hour flight from New York to Kaplan's English school in Sydney."

"Discombobulated" is a word that is only about 160 years old, but it's become very common, especially in American English.

It can mean many different things, but it usually means "to be confused or disoriented". It could also mean not being able to get your thoughts together.

While it was a "made up word" in the 1850s, it is now so common that it is used in Milwaukee's International Airport arrivals lounge:

Recombobulation Area in Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport

A "recombobulation area" would be a place where you could sit and relax. It could also be where you collect all of your luggage and family before continuing on your journey.


It's not easy to find when "discombobulated" was first used. Making up fancy American English words, by mixing Latin and slang, dates back to a speech by American pioneer Davy Crockett in 1834. He turned the word "obfuscate", which means "to make things cloudy" into "obfusticate".

The word "discombobulated" first appeared in a 1916 study, which showed that the word was common in New England.

Interesting fact: The "bob" part of the word might come from an old word, "bobbery", which means confusion.

Do you know any good made-up words?  We'd love to hear about them in the comments - one of them might even make it into Word of the Week!

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