tr.v. per·plexed, per·plex·ing, per·plex·es
1. To confuse or trouble with uncertainty or doubt.
2. To make confusedly intricate; complicate: poorly informed opinions that only perplex the subject.
[Back-formation from Middle English perplexed, puzzled; see PERPLEXED.]
Synonyms: perplex, mystify, bewilder, confound, puzzle
These verbs mean to cause bafflement or confusion. Perplex stresses uncertainty or anxiety, as over reaching an understanding or finding a solution: "No subject at the Philadelphia convention had perplexed the delegates more than the mode of choosing the president" (Susan Dunn).
Mystify implies something inexplicable by conventional understanding: "Galileo was mystified by the disappearance of the two smaller bodies accompanying Saturn along its orbit" (Eric Burgess).
Bewilder emphasizes extreme mental confusion: " We human beings are ... bewildered when trying to imagine a world with more than three dimensions" (Paul Davies).
To confound is to confuse and astonish: God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (I Corinthians 1:27).
Puzzle suggests difficulty in solving or interpreting something: "The poor creature puzzled me once ... by a question merely natural and innocent" (Daniel Defoe).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus