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  1. suprunp's Avatar
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    #1

    He boggled at her.

    “Look,” she said in a sympathetic tone of voice, and sat down near him, “it’s quite understandable that you’re going to feel a little aimless for a bit.”
    He boggled at her. He had never seen anyone sit on their own lap before.

    (The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams)

    What does 'boggle' mean here?

    Thanks.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: He boggled at her.

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    “Look,” she said in a sympathetic tone of voice, and sat down near him, “it’s quite understandable that you’re going to feel a little aimless for a bit.”
    He boggled at her. He had never seen anyone sit on their own lap before.

    (The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams)

    What does 'boggle' mean here?

    Thanks.
    We usually say that our eyes "boggle". It means that we stare at something with very wide eyes. I wasn't aware that "to boggle" was a verb (and it's entirely possible that it's not because the wonderful Douglas Adams tended to use words he had invented sometimes) but I assume that it means "He stared, wide-eyed in surprise at her."

  3. JohnParis's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: He boggled at her.

    boggle - verb [ intrans. ] informal

    • (of a person or a person's mind) To be astonished or overwhelmed when trying to imagine something.
    Example: The mind boggles at the spectacle.

    • to cause (a person or a person's mind) to be astonished in such a way.
    Example: The inflated salary of a CEO boggles the mind.

    • to (boggle at) (of a person) hesitate or be anxious at. Example: You never boggle at plain speaking.

    • as an adjective: ( boggling) The total was a boggling 1.5 trillion miles.

    definition of boggle from Oxford Dictionaries Online

  4. suprunp's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: He boggled at her.

    My apologies, JohnParis, but I do not see how any of these definitions can fit into the sentence in question. Could you expand on it?

    Thanks.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: He boggled at her.

    I don't know what's wrong with me - the usual phrase is "the mind boggles". However, in the original sentence, I don't see how "to boggle" could be used to say what his mind was doing at that point. It sounded to me as if he was looking at her in a particular way.

  6. JohnParis's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: He boggled at her.

    My apologies, JohnParis, but I do not see how any of these definitions can fit into the sentence in question. Could you expand on it?

    Sure Suprunp. I'd be happy to.
    The context you gave us was limited to:
    "Look,” she said in a sympathetic tone of voice, and sat down near him, “it’s quite understandable that you’re going to feel a little aimless for a bit.”
    He boggled at her. He had never seen anyone sit on their own lap before.

    I took the use of the word "boggled" to mean that "He was astonished and overwhelmed by her." He had never seen anyone sit on their own lap before.
    She may have sat down in such a manner that amazed him.
    Maybe the author was trying to make up a new word or maybe he suffers from a lack of good vocabulary - who knows?

    Like emsr2d2, I too thought that there might be an action of "looking" involved here. But the word that came to my mind was "ogling" (to stare at in a lecherous manner). Perhaps that's what Adams really wanted to say? "He ogled at her. He had never seen anyone sit on their own lap before."

    John


    Last edited by JohnParis; 29-Oct-2011 at 13:57. Reason: spacing

  7. suprunp's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: He boggled at her.

    A few more examples of the usage of 'boggle' that I've already come across:

    “You want to talk to your great-grandfather?” boggled Ford.
    “Yeah.”

    A tall figure appeared silhouetted in the hatchway. It walked down the ramp and stood in front of Arthur.
    [...]
    Arthur boggled at it.
    It gazed levelly at him.

    “There!” said Ford, shooting out his arm. “There, behind that sofa!”
    Arthur looked. Much to his surprise, there was a velvet paisley-covered Chesterfield sofa in the field in front of them. He boggled intelligently at it. Shrewd questions sprang into his mind.

  8. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: He boggled at her.

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    A few more examples of the usage of 'boggle' that I've already come across:

    “You want to talk to your great-grandfather?” boggled Ford.
    “Yeah.”

    A tall figure appeared silhouetted in the hatchway. It walked down the ramp and stood in front of Arthur.
    [...]
    Arthur boggled at it.
    It gazed levelly at him.

    “There!” said Ford, shooting out his arm. “There, behind that sofa!”
    Arthur looked. Much to his surprise, there was a velvet paisley-covered Chesterfield sofa in the field in front of them. He boggled intelligently at it. Shrewd questions sprang into his mind.
    I think Douglas Adams liked the word "boggled".

  9. BobK's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: He boggled at her.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnParis View Post
    ...
    Maybe the author was trying to make up a new word or maybe he suffers from a lack of good vocabulary - who knows?

    ...
    As a one-time colleague of the late lamented Mr Adams (CU Footlights, early '70s) I can attest that his vocabulary was fine. Bhai must be right.

    b

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