Attested since the 17th century, then introduced in the general written language by Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777), from Alemannic German stūnen, of uncertain origin. Probably related to stauen (“to dam, retain”). Alternatively—though less likely both on semantic and phonetic grounds—from Old French estoner, whence English astound, astonish. Probably not related to English stun (German stöhnen).
The original sense is “to become stiff, stand still”, used especially of the eyes and thus “to muse, contemplate, romanticise” (German sinnen, schwärmen, schwelgen), which is the sense in which Haller used it. Outside of Switzerland, however, the word was reinterpreted by backformation from the derivative erstaunen (“to amaze, astonish”), which had already been in general use since the 16th century.
- to be amazed or astonished; to wonder or marvel
- Die Zuschauer staunten über seine Kunststücke.
- The spectators were amazed at his tricks and feats.
- Staunen and erstaunt sein are stronger than sich wundern, but weaker than verblüfft sein. Moreover, they usually imply a degree of admiration, though this is not necessarily the case.
|present||ich staune||wir staunen||i||ich staune||wir staunen|
|du staunst||ihr staunt||du staunest||ihr staunet|
|er staunt||sie staunen||er staune||sie staunen|
|preterite||ich staunte||wir staunten||ii||ich staunte1||wir staunten1|
|du stauntest||ihr stauntet||du stauntest1||ihr stauntet1|
|er staunte||sie staunten||er staunte1||sie staunten1|
1Rare except in very formal contexts; alternative in würde normally preferred.