Nov 26, 2006

a sportswriter's thesaurus: "shock" and "stun"

Shock. Stun.

In the world of sport, both are clichés, perhaps because commentators and pundits and analysts are so assured of their rightness, or the rightness of power rankings, polls, win-loss records.

We all know it's not so simple. (Don't bet on sports.) But our knowledge is buried under heaps of hype. It's far easier to stem the symptoms than to cure the disease.

So, sportswriters, here are several verbs you should employ instead of "shock" or "stun" or their variants, with explanations, connotations, and sample headlines.

"To overwhelm with surprise or sudden wonder; astonish greatly."
Not just astonishment, but a sense of near-gratitude for one's role in the stomping, whether victim or spectator.
Trojans Amaze Irish, Raise BCS Prospects

The word probably derives from the Latin attonāre, to strike with lightning. Perfect for the subtle punster. (See also astound.)
Tampa Bay Lightning Astonish Sharks

Etymologically, it implies weariness--not just being stunned mentally, but beaten down physically. Think of a boxer counting sparrows on the mat.
Knicks Daze Everyone, Win

To make speechless. If you can dumbfound any personality in sports, an industry that thrives on words, words, words, you've done something truly special.
Titans Dumbfound Giants

Of unknown origin, the word, three syllables of confusion, is a treat for the eye and ear. Flah-bur-gahst. Yum. Combine with monosyllables for effect. (Why is "monosyllabic" polysyllabic?)
Pats Flabbergast Bears

Going back to the world of boxing for a moment, let's recall our heavyweight pugilist, examining puddles of perspiration close-up.
Cubs Floor Cards

Uncertain origin, but works well with football, for obvious reasons.
Colts Flummox Eagles


As Jesus once said, "You are Petra (Greek for 'rock'), and on this rock I will build my offense." Peter went on to lead the league in touchdowns and yards per carry.
Seahawks Petrify Rams

Underused, underappreciated, and it's a pity.
Spurs Stupefy Sonics, Sonics Stupefy Fans

1 comment:

TeacherRefPoet said...

Amaze, Daze, Flabbergast, and even stun indicate things that might take place on the field/court, not so much the result. The RESULT is shocking, but that dunk in the third quarter might be amazing or dazzling.

I'm cool with shock and stun.