Greg's bite: Flummoxed defined
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Greg's bite: Flummoxed defined

By Greg Mills

While I think I have a pretty good vocabulary at my disposal, the word "flummoxed", which Steve Jobs used when he dropped the iPad 2 bomb on the PC market, perplexed me.  

I was pretty sure he wasn't complementing the competition, but I had to Google the word to fully understand what he was saying. Having studied up on the word flummox and it's deviates, I thought it might be fun to define the word in the context of the PC market, in a way everyone would fully appreciate. 

Flummoxed comes from the transitive verb "flummox." The origins of the word are unknown, but the earliest documented use of the word goes back to 1837. Merriam-Webster uses the sentence "an actor who's easily flummoxed by any changes in the script" as an example of the proper use of the word. "Confuse" is similar to the basic intent of the word.  

Flummoxed synonyms listed by Merriam Webster are illuminating: addle, baffle, bamboozle, beat, befog, befuddle, bemuse, buffalo, confound, discombobulate, disorient, confuse, fox, fuddle, get, gravel, maze, muddle, mystify, perplex, pose, puzzle and vex.

Flummoxed-related words are listed as: stick, stump, weird out: abash, discomfit, disconcert, discountenance, embarrass, faze, fluster, mortify, nonplus, rattle; agitate, bother, chagrin, discomfort, discompose, dismay, disquiet, distress, disturb, perturb, stun, unhinge, unsettle, upset, beguile, cozen, deceive, delude, dupe, fool, gull, hoax, hoodwink, humbug, misguide, mislead, snow, string along, take in, trick

Webster uses: assure, reassure, satisfy; enlighten and inform as near antonyms.

Now that we understand the word "flummoxed," let us put it to work in some sentences related to the high tech world that fully illuminate the situation Apple CEO Steve Jobs was referring to in the PC and slate computer market, that all the competitors are hoping to compete in.

1. Steve Ballmer was so flummoxed upon actually holding an iPad 1 in his hands, that he immediately canceled the unreleased Windows tablet computer his company had already spent millions of dollars developing, as he realized it wouldn't compete with Apple's new product.

2. The engineering staff at RIM were so totally flummoxed by the long battery life Apple claimed, (before the first iPhone was released), that they went on record with their management stating that Apple was lying through their teeth and was making false promises, though Apple's claim proved to be true a few weeks later. 

3. The bewildering death spiral mentality of RIM must be even further flummoxed by the abrupt resignation of their chief marketing executive right after the release of iPad 2 specs, but before the actual release of RIM's "PlayBook" slate computer.

4. The executive vice president of Samsung was so completely flummoxedby Apple's iPad 2 specs he stated, on the record, that his company's Galaxy Tab's specs and pricing were "inadequate" compared to Apple's new product (perhaps Merriam Webster needs to add "inadequate" to the list of related words).

5. Motorola stockholders must have felt flummoxed by the announcement of the iPad 2, since so many of them sold their stock, despite the recently announced Xoom tablet.

Yep, Apple is the flummoxifier of the PC market. Apple's competitors -- the flummoxed (victims)-- spend millions of dollars on research and development, but before they can actually produce and launch a new product that competes with the iPad 1, Apple dumps the iPad 2 on the market. What makes it even worse for them, is that iPads are sold at a low enough price point that it is almost impossible to match Apples products.  

While  "flummox" is the right word, perhaps it is a much milder word than the competitors are really thinking or saying in private. I prefer not to use the words the competitors are likely using, children might read this article. I think I like the word "flummoxed."

Thanks, Steve.  That's Greg's Bite for today.

(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at He can be emailed at


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