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Language tip of the week: shocking

Written by Liz Potter

In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This set of language tips will explore the words and phrases we use to talk about feelings. This week’s tip looks at adjectives and phrases that mean making someone feel shocked:



shocking making you feel shocked:

  • This is a very shocking development.
  • His behaviour was shocking even by today’s standards.

be a shock something that is a shock is shocking:

  • It must have been a shock, suddenly being told she had cancer.
  • It was a terrible shock to discover he had been lying to them all along.

appalling very shocking, because of being bad or immoral:

  • Conditions in the camps were appalling. 
  • We all saw the appalling scenes on television.

horrifying extremely shocking and upsetting:

  • Horrifying images were burned into their memories.
  • Conditions in the home were horrifying.

horrific shocking and upsetting: used especially about serious accidents or violent crimes that cause injuries and death:

  • horrific pictures of the bomb victims
  • It was a horrific experience throughout.

devastating so shocking and upsetting that you find it difficult to cope with:

  • It is devastating to be told you have months to live.
  • This is devastating news.

shattering extremely shocking and upsetting, and often making you feel that you cannot get on with your normal life:

  • The collapse of their business came as a shattering disappointment.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘shocking‘.

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Liz Potter

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