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The verb to discombobulate is a humorous word chiefly used in The United States, but it’s a genuine English word dating from the 1800’s nonetheless. You’ll find it in any English dictionary.

To discombobulate means to throw someone into a state of confusion, to perplex them, to cause them to be unable to think clearly. It’s thought to perhaps be an alteration of discompose or discomfit, but those are really just guesses as far as I can tell. Here’s an example of its use:

The guests arriving an hour early for dinner completely discombobulated me.

You’d think that to “combobulate” someone should mean to clarify things for someone, to help them think clearly, but there is no word “combobulate” at all.

Well, perhaps there is some sense of combobulation. Here is a sign from the Milwaukee airport:

I have been through Milwaukee many times and smile every time I see one of the signs. Here's an article about how they got there; essentially the former director thought that some humor would help with the stress of security lines.

ThyPeace, regular recombobulator.
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