What does “discomfit” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

We find the verb “discomfit” nine times in the Authorized Version; its noun form, “discomfiture,” appears once. Although “discomfit” and “discomfort” are obviously related, they are not perfect synonyms. We must appreciate a distinguishing nuance. One who has been discomfited has also been discomforted, but one who has been discomforted has not necessarily been discomfited. Discomfit is a special type of discomfort or uneasiness. It is embarrassment on the battlefield—namely, a defeat. “Discomfit” is comprised of two Latin words: the prefix “dis–” (“reversal”) and “confect/conficere” (“put together”). Literally, the word carries the idea of scattering, as in troops being divided and thereby weakened. They would be put to shame indeed! (Similarly, “discomfort” would literally mean “reversed comfort.”) Notice “discomfit” in military contexts below.

  • Exodus 17:13: “And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
  • Numbers 14:45: “Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.”
  • Joshua 10:10: “And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”
  • Judges 4:15: “And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.”
  • Judges 8:12: “And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.”
  • 1 Samuel 7:10: “And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.”
  • 1 Samuel 14:20: “And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.”
  • 2 Samuel 22:15: “And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.”
  • Psalm 18:14: “Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.”
  • Isaiah 31:8: “Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.”

Also see:
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “under colour” mean in Acts 27:30?
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?