The first time I heard the word was during a spelling quiz in high school.
Funny how the formal school methodology for teaching kids to spell typifies how life usually unfolds to teach a person how to live: First comes the test, then the lesson.
I felt it particularly ironic, during my sophomore year, that my English teacher could not seem to pronounce about half the words we were supposed to learn. A quarter into the school year, she endeavored to teach us this new word, and learn it we did, in spite of her.
She was mid-way into her list.
“Number Six: flaaah-bur-jhast. It means to astound, to surprise. Flaaah-bur-jast.”
It sounded dubious to me, but I could only shrug my shoulders and start writing, “FLABERJAST” on my sheet.
My classmates and I, upon learning the correct spelling, figured out on our own how to pronounce the word right.
Since then, I never did find myself in a situation where I could use it. That is, of course, not counting those times of non-stop laughter with my classmates remembering our infamous English teacher and exaggeratedly being “flaaahburjhasted” by the most slightly surprising thing.
I never did find a use for the word, until today: When I devoted myself to an extensive search for one flabbergasting thing, and came up with nothing. Not one thing in this whole wide universe that I find flabbergasting.