Difference Between Bemused and Amused

Bemused and amused are often confused with each other. Often they are used simultaneously in sentence which is not correct. Both have different meanings. Bemused means something that is found to be confusing or puzzling. Amused means to make somebody laugh or to be entertained. In the Elizabethan era, especially in the plays of Shakespeare both the words amused and bemused were used. Both the words are traditional. The meaning of bemused has remained in the modern era. But the meaning of Amused has changed.

Bemused vs Amused

The main difference between Bemused and Amused is that bemused is the past participle and past tense of the word ‘bemuse’. Amused is the past participle and past tense of the word ‘amuse’. The origin of the word ‘Amused’ is thought from some old French word. Its origin is not so clear. Bemused originated in the 17th century from the word ‘muse’. Meaning of bemused include puzzle, confuse, or bewilder (someone), bewildered or confused, lost in thought; preoccupied. Meaning of Amused includes pleasurably entertained, occupied, or diverted.

Bemused vs Amused

Bemused is the past participle and past tense of bemuse. Over the years its meaning has changed. There has been a shift. It is believed to be originated in the 17th century from the word ‘muse’. This word is often confused with bemoan or amused. Interchanging of the term bemuse with any of the words is considered wrong traditionally. Because it has a completely different meaning. For example, ‘The bemused man scratched his hands.’. Or ‘The bemused child looked around the park.’.

Amused means to make someone laugh or to distract the attention. Often the word ‘amused’ is used in the negative sense. Amuse also has a noun word ‘amusement’ that refers to something that amuses or is often described as the state of being amused. Various examples include ‘What amusements do you have planned for the party? Or His obvious amusement pleased me.

Comparison Table Between Bemused and Amused

Parameters of ComparisonBemusedAmused
MeaningConfused, bewildered or puzzledEntertained or make someone laugh.
FormPast Participle and past tense of bemuse.Past participle and past tense of amuse.
FeelingPuzzlement and bewilderment.Happiness, laughter, pleasure etc.
ChangeShift in meaning No shift
ExamplesAs Evan threw up, he was bemused by why people were amused with roller-coastersRyan was amused that Peter seemed bemused by his behaviour

What is Bemused?

Bemused is an adjective and it has a verb form ‘bemuse’. The word ‘bemuse’ implies a state of confusion or bewilderment. The origin of the term bemused is very unclear. Som says that it has a Middle English origin and some say that this word was originated from the term muse in the 17th century. Bemused means to distract someone and attract attention towards them. Individuals often wonder that what it could mean. There is also a shift in the meaning of the word ‘bemused’. It also means feeling amusing or wry or tolerant. 

For example, “the boss looked bemused of the sudden decision of his employee to quit the job”. The above sentence indicates that the boss was bewildered by the behaviour of his employee and the sudden change in the events. “Sameer looked bemused when Rekha suddenly blurted out the truth about her disposition.” In this sentence, it implies that Sameer was puzzled at the outburst of Rekha and have also been wryly amused by her behaviour. The meaning of the word ‘bemused’ is sometimes very difficult to learn for the students.

Because it means keeps changing according to the context. People also used bemused to mean a little bit amused. However, linguists find this use not to be correct. According to them, the original meaning of the word ‘bemused’ should be used. It has the same word form as amused. Like bemusing, bemusement etc.

What is Amused?

Amused is derived from the word ‘to amuse’.Its meaning is to entertain or give pleasure or happiness. Amused can also mean that something of interest. When something is very funny, entertaining in nature then it means to be amused. When a person is amused by something then he gives laughter or smile. Amused is paired with verbs like the look, seem, appear etc. For example. My friend was very amused by the clown at the funfair. You can see that if we want to say that someone was amused then we use the word ‘by’.

Verb ‘amused; can be used reflexively like ‘While waiting for my friend at the station, I amused myself by listening to the songs.” There are different types of expression related like ‘to be highly amused’, ‘to keep someone amused’, ‘to amuse’, ‘an amusement park’, ‘to provide amusement’ etc. Amused is always related to a positive meaning like happiness, joy and pleasure. There is no shift in the meaning of the word amused. It is believed to be originated in the Middle English period. It is taken from a Fench word.

The word ‘amused’ was very popular at the time of the Shakesperian period. Shakespeare was seen often using this word in most of his plays. Since then it is used in the modern era. Usage has not become out of context. It is still used in daily conversation.

Main Differences Between Bemused and Amused

  1. Bemused means confused, bewildered or puzzled. Amused means to be entertained or make someone laugh.
  2. Bemused is the past participle and past tense of bemuse. Amused is the past participle and past tense of amuse.
  3. Feelings associated with bemused are Puzzlement and bewilderment. Feelings associated with amused are happiness, laughter, pleasure etc.
  4. There is a change in the meaning of bemused. It can also means tolerant amusement or wry. There is no change in the meaning of amused.
  5. An example of bemused is ‘As Evan threw up, he was bemused by why people were amused with roller-coasters’. An example of amused is ‘Ryan was amused that Peter seemed bemused by his behaviour.’

Conclusion

Both bemused and amused are the adjectives. Both have the verb form bemuse and amuse. Both are the past participle and past tense of it. Both of them are used interchangeably. It creates a lot of confusion. Because of their same spellings and same pronunciations. The two words can also be used in the same sentence. For example, The riddle amused half the class and bemused the other half equally. While using both words one should know the difference. It should be used properly and in its original sense. Both are believed to have the French root word. But in the case of bemused, it is not very clear that when these words were used or originated. Amused is used very commonly. Bemused is not a very common word.

References

  1. http://resp.llas.ac.cn/C666/handle/2XK7JSWQ/87024
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15405710pc0204_2
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