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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.