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Astonishing vs. Astounding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 24, 2023
Astonishing refers to causing great surprise or amazement; astounding implies a level of surprise that overwhelms or stuns, often due to an exceptional quality.

Key Differences

Astonishing often conveys a sense of great surprise or wonder, usually positive or neutral. Astounding, while also implying great surprise, often carries a stronger connotation, suggesting something that overwhelms or stuns, often due to its exceptional nature or magnitude.
Astonishing is used to describe events, achievements, or facts that are surprising and remarkable. While, astounding is typically used in contexts where the level of surprise or disbelief is heightened, often due to something being extraordinary or incredibly impressive.
The emotional response elicited by something astonishing might be wonder or disbelief, but it often remains within a more manageable range of surprise. In contrast, astounding can evoke a deeper sense of awe or shock, reflecting a more intense emotional reaction.
Astonishing might be used for a wide range of scenarios, from simple unexpected happenings to more significant events. However, astounding is often reserved for scenarios of larger scale or higher impact, where the degree of surprise or wonder is notably high.
In terms of linguistic usage, both words are adjectives, but astounding may appear more frequently in contexts emphasizing extreme or unparalleled qualities. Astonishing might be more common in everyday language to describe a broad spectrum of surprising situations.

Comparison Chart


Surprise or wonder, often positive
Overwhelming surprise, stronger impact

Typical Usage

Remarkable, surprising events
Extraordinary, overwhelming scenarios

Emotional Response

Wonder, disbelief
Awe, shock, profound amazement

Scope and Scale

Broad range, from simple to significant
Larger scale, high impact events

Linguistic Frequency

Common in everyday language
Often in contexts of extreme qualities

Astonishing and Astounding Definitions


Causing great surprise or amazement.
The magician's trick was truly astonishing.


Capable of overwhelming with amazement.
The scale of the project is absolutely astounding.


Unexpectedly impressive or surprising.
His knowledge of history is astonishing.


Surprisingly impressive or notable.
The team's performance was astounding.


Remarkable or impressively surprising.
Her quick recovery was astonishing.


Staggeringly surprising or shocking.
The amount of detail in the artwork is astounding.


Evoking a sense of wonder or disbelief.
The astonishing beauty of the landscape left them speechless.


Eliciting a strong emotional response due to its magnitude.
The view from the mountaintop was truly astounding.


Capable of causing astonishment.
The technological advances in the past decade are astonishing.


Beyond what is typical or expected.
His memory for numbers is astounding.


To fill with sudden wonder or amazement.


To astonish and bewilder.


Causing astonishment.


Present participle of astound


Present participle of astonish


That astounds or astound.
Astounding success; an astounding spectacle


Very wonderful; of a nature to excite astonishment; as, an astonishing event.


Of a nature to astound; astonishing; amazing; as, an astounding force, statement, or fact.


Surprising greatly;
She does an amazing amount of work
The dog was capable of astonishing tricks


Bewildering or striking dumb with wonder


So surprisingly impressive as to stun or overwhelm;
Such an enormous response was astonishing
An astounding achievement
The amount of money required was staggering
Suffered a staggering defeat
The figure inside the boucle dress was stupefying


So surprisingly impressive as to stun or overwhelm;
Such an enormous response was astonishing
An astounding achievement
The amount of money required was staggering
Suffered a staggering defeat
The figure inside the boucle dress was stupefying


Does astonishing always imply a positive reaction?

Not necessarily, it can be neutral or slightly positive.

Can astonishing be used for negative events?

Yes, if they are surprisingly bad or unexpected.

What kind of events are described as astonishing?

Events that cause great surprise or wonder.

What kind of achievements are termed astounding?

Those that are incredibly impressive or unprecedented.

What does astonishing typically imply?

Surprising or amazing in a remarkable way.

Is astonishing more common than astounding?

It's more commonly used in everyday speech.

Is astounding used for everyday occurrences?

Less so; it's reserved for more exceptional cases.

Is astounding appropriate for describing nature?

Yes, especially when it's remarkably beautiful or vast.

What is the primary meaning of astounding?

Something that overwhelms with its remarkable nature.

Is astounding related to shock or awe?

Yes, it often conveys shock or awe due to its magnitude.

Can a story or book be described as astonishing?

Yes, if it's remarkably well-written or surprising.

Can technological advances be called astounding?

Absolutely, especially if they are groundbreaking.

Can astounding imply a negative connotation?

Rarely; it's usually neutral or positive.

What emotions does astounding evoke in art or music?

Feelings of profound admiration or amazement.

Is astonishing used in formal contexts?

It can be, though it's also common in casual speech.

Do astonishing and astounding have similar origins?

Yes, both have roots in Old French and Latin, related to surprise.

Does astonishing relate to physical or abstract things?

Both; it can describe tangible or intangible qualities.

Can a person's skill be astonishing?

Yes, if it's remarkably impressive or unexpected.

How does context affect the use of these words?

It influences the intensity and nature of the surprise conveyed.

What makes a scientific discovery astounding?

Its groundbreaking nature and impact on existing knowledge.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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