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Discombobulated is an adjective defined as the state of being confused, disoriented or upset. The verb form of the word is discombobulate, to incur a state of disorientation or confusion. The term was first used in the early 20th century (or as early as 1834 according to some sources) and is believed to be derived from the word, discomposed, though there exist several other convincing theories as to the origination. One of these hypotheses suggest the possible source being a four hundred year old Italian phrase scombussolare, which translates to upset in English and is a conjugation of bussola, an Italian noun for compass. It is widely accepted among etymologists that the term discombobulated is a variation of an old American English term discombobricated, a coined expression with it’s origination being considered slang.

Usage examples: “My bank keeps changing names and it’s got me all discombobulated“, “the hecklers pelted the discombobulated speaker with anything that came to hand”; “looked at each other dumbly, quite disconcerted” – G.B.Shaw.

Additional reading may be found at Some Bits: Nelson’s Weblog: culture/discombobulate and The meaning of discombobulate – by Ruth Belena – Helium.

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Roget’s Thesaurus,, Google Translate.

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About Steadwell

A software professional for over 30 years, I now reside in my home state of Indiana where I am a web developer, consultant and civilian journalist, striving to further my education.