Nonplussed About Nonplussed

I hate to pick on Sports Illustrated’s Peter King because every Sunday night, I find myself looking forward to his MMQB column. However, I was dismayed to see yet another major publication allow the incorrect usage of the word “nonplussed” to bubble up from writer, to fact checker, to copy editor without anyone’s applying the dreaded red pen.

In a section of his article that focused on Eli Manning’s improvement, King wrote the following:

Then Accorsi wrote about how glad he was to see Manning bring the Giants back after the Steelers kept scoring, and about how he liked how a nonplussed Manning dealt with the Roethlisberger comparisons.

“Nonplussed” is not synonymous with “undaunted”. In fact, while its meaning is not quite the opposite of undaunted, its usage contradicts all of the accolades heaped on Manning earlier in the piece. What then does nonplussed mean? Someone is nonplussed is bewildered, flummoxed, puzzled, or confused. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has noticed the evolving neo-connotation (bad pun, my apologies!) of the word. Almost five years ago to the day, this commentary on nonplussed appeared on Random House’s website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *