The English language has some great words for describing confusion. Words that in themselves, simply by their sound and spelling, have the power to capture and even cause the state that they describe.
My favourite of these confusing words of confusion is discombobulated. You don’t have to know what discombobulated means to know what it means – the word itself gives you that very feeling. Discombobulated is a discombobulating word.
I don’t know the term for it, but just like an onomatopoeic word mimics the sound of the sound for which it is the word – BANG! – discombobulated leaves your brain with a distinct sense of its meaning.
Discombobulated has brilliant synonyms in befuddled and flummoxed. Both words, but flummoxed in particular, captures the sensation of a mind flapping around, trying to grasp the reality that’s just been thrust upon it.
Discombobulation between people can often cause a kerfuffle. An almost onomatopoeic synonym for a kerfuffle is a hurly-burly. I mean, that pretty much captures the sound of a group of angry men shoving each other about, making noises fit for the Swedish Chef, right before someone excretes a loud “KERFUFFLE!” and delivers a punch to the face.
What a hullabaloo!
An especially serious hurly-burly can sometimes conclude in a defenestration – the act of throwing a person out of a window.
This word has a prominent place in history due to the Defenestrations of Prague. It seems that the Czechs have a penchant for removing people from power by hurling them from tower apertures. A right kerfuffle!
Although the defenestrations of 1483 is sometimes described as a “less significant” defenestration, the act was probably quite significant for the defenestrees who plummeted to their deaths.
I imagine they felt quite flummoxed. Flummoxed and indeed utterly discombobulated.