tr.v. be·mused, be·mus·ing, be·mus·es
1. To cause to be bewildered; confuse.
2. To occupy the attention of; absorb or engross: The book bemused him for days.
3. Usage Problem To cause to be mildly or wryly amused: "Unlike William McKinley, whose priggishness bemused him, Roosevelt had no compunctions about smoking cigars in public" (Joseph Conlin).
be·mused·ly (-myzĭd-lē) adv.
Usage Note: The word bemused is sometimes used to mean "amused, especially when finding something wryly funny," as in The stream of jokes from the comedian left the audience bemused, with some breaking out into guffaws. Most of the Usage Panel does not like this usage, with 78 percent rejecting this sentence in our 2005 survey. By contrast, 84 percent accepted a sentence in which bemused means "confused."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.