When Americans read the news today, oh boy, many of them searched for a word to describe how they felt. Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster reported the top lookups at the online dictionary site were bigot, fascism, concede, xenophobe, trump, misogyny, and deplorable. As for me, “horrified” and “devastated” came to mind.
I encountered another alternative in a tweet by the American writer Ben Greenman:
Americans tend to think of “gutted” as meaning “eviscerated.” As blogger Lynne Murphy noted when she wrote about the word in 2009, the Brits have recently adopted a metaphorical sense. The OED reports it originated as prison slang and defines it as: “bitterly disappointed; devastated, shattered; utterly fed up.” The dictionary’s first citation is a 1984 entry in Jonathon Green’s Dictionary of Contemporary Slang and the first use in the wild is from a 1987 article in the English newspaper The Independent: “We are a..strong family, but we are gutted by Shani’s death.
All subsequent citations are from British sources. But “gutted” so perfectly fits the mood of so many here that I think Greenman is merely the harbinger of a U.S. boom.