In example sentences in some dictionaries these words are used in positive sense like splendid or hypnotizing..But I'd like to ask if it is possible to use these astonishing/astounding in the following sentence.

I was astonished/astounded when I saw my boyfriend was kissing my sister.

I know some adjective neutral so they can be used in both way..For example, for me stunning and striking depicts more positive images whereas shocking is more negative..


"The news of president's death astonished the world"

  • 1
    You're using the wrong part of speech... "I was astonished/astounded when I saw by boyfriend..."
    – Catija
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:09
  • right, the point is that if this incident can be called astonishing or astounding..
    – hannah
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:12
  • ... Not with a first person subject. These words are not specific to a positive or negative concept. "Astounding stupidity" is one of my favorite uses of the word "astounding"... and that's hardly positive.
    – Catija
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:14
  • I think both words have more to do with surprise and understanding (or lack of understanding) concerning the situation. So I would not say there is any negative implication in itself. We assume, but don't know, that you didn't like what you saw.
    – user3169
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Yes, they can. You can say you are astonished that one could be so stupid. Or your friend is astoundingly pigheaded. You could also use extraordinary in place of either word too, although you'd need to rewrite the sentence a bit. There's no inherent positive or negative value to those words, it just depends on how you use them.


"The news of president's death astonished the world"

This is a great example of the word having a negative meaning. As Andy said, the meaning is neutral. However, since the subject is negative, the adjective becomes negative.

Acknowledging Catija's point about the first example, something similar would certainly be negative. It is difficult to think of a good example though, but I think "the president's death" is clear enough.

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