From Old French desconfit, past participle of desconfire (to undo, to destroy), from des- (completely), from Latin dis- + confire (to make), from Latin conficio (to finish up, to destroy), from com- (with, together) + facio (to do, to make).

Later sense of “to embarrass, to disconcert” due to confusion with unrelated discomfort.[1]



discomfit (third-person singular simple present discomfits, present participle discomfiting or discomfitting, simple past and past participle discomfited or discomfitted) (transitive)

  1. (archaic) To defeat completely; to rout.
    Synonyms: overthrow, vanquish
  2. (rare) To defeat the plans or hopes of; to frustrate; disconcert.
    Synonyms: foil, thwart
    • 1886, Andrew Lang, chapter 10, in The Mark Of Cain:
      In these disguises, Maitland argued, he would certainly avoid recognition, and so discomfit any mischief planned by the enemies of Margaret.
  3. To embarrass greatly; to confuse; to perplex; to disconcert.
    Synonyms: abash, disconcert; see also Thesaurus:abash
    Don't worry. Your joke did not really discomfit me.

Usage notesEdit

While the word is widely used to mean “to embarrass, to disconcert”, prescriptive usage considers this a mistake (confusion with discomfort), and restricts discomfit to meaning “to defeat”.[2] However, Merriam–Webster notes that “[...] the sense "to discomfort or disconcert" has become thoroughly established and is the most prevalent meaning of the word.”[3]


See alsoEdit


discomfit (comparative more discomfit, superlative most discomfit)

  1. (obsolete) Discomfited; overthrown.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for discomfit in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “discomfit”, in Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ Discomfit zone”, January 4, 2008, Grammarphobia
  3. ^ discomfit”, in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary, (Please provide a date or year).