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(pronounced dis-kum-fit)  verb


1. to put into a state of confusion or bewilderment (often because of frustration of one’s plans); disconcert; embarrass; to make uneasy or self-conscious; discompose. 2. to frustrate the plans of.

Other Forms

Discomfiture (pronounced dis-kum-fih-chur or dis-kum-fih-choor; choor rhymes with “tour”) noun

Main Example

  • Did you hear that James Comey was heckled when he spoke at Howard University’s 150th opening convocation very recently? It appears some 20 disrupters were protesting “white supremacy” and attacking the FBI as being an “anti-black” institution. But, rather than being discomfited, the former FBI chief pressed on, raising his voice so that he could be heard by the rest of the huge audience, which gave him a standing ovation at the end. At one point, Comey even ad-libbed: “...The real world is a place where it’s hard sometimes to find people who will listen with an attitude that they might actually be convinced of something...Instead, what happens in most of the real world--and about four rows in this auditorium--is that people don’t listen at all.” Very well done, Mr. Comey! This author salutes your aplomb!

Workplace Examples

  • Suzanne did an extremely good job of retaining her composure throughout her presentation and the Q&A despite some sarcastic comments from those two detractors in the audience. Nothing seemed to discomfit her--she was unfazed from beginning to end.
  • You are right: that one question relating to my previous job was pretty embarrassing. I didn’t see it coming and, yes, it did discomfit me a bit.

Other Examples

  • an HR exec offering advice to a direct report: “Look, the issue you will be addressing next week is a really hot one; some of the employees are pretty agitated about it. So, it’s vital that you be fully prepared...which means anticipating every possible question from the audience. And at no point should you lose your cool: you cannot afford to be discomfited at any stage of your presentation.”
  • an unexpected announcement by the Federal Reserve discomfiting investors, causing the stock market to nosedive; the sudden and discomfiting plunge in the S&P 500 at the start of 2016, when that index fell approximately 10% within the first six weeks of the year
  • a political candidate’s discomfiture plainly evident when reporters begin peppering him with questions relating to his somewhat checkered past
  • the discomfiture within NATO following the recent announcement by Turkey, which has long been a key member of the Western Alliance, to buy antiaircraft missiles from Russia
  • in the U.S. Senate, casting of critical “no” votes by John McCain and Susan Collins discomfiting Republican leaders’ efforts to repeal-and-replace Obamacare

© 2018 V.J. Singal
No part of this may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.

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