• bemuse
  • audio pronunciation
  • \bih-MYOOZ\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
: to make confused : puzzle, bewilder
2
: to occupy the attention of : absorb
3
: to cause to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement
  • EXAMPLES

She had neither asked for nor expected her newfound celebrity, and was bemused by all the attention she was receiving.

"When Brazil’s central bank stepped into the market to defend the country’s weakening currency last month, many were a little bemused. After all, the country’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, has spent the best part of this year waging a currency war against the dollar and complaining about just how strong the Brazilian real is." -- From a blog post by Samantha Pearson at ft.com (The Financial Times), October 27, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?

In 1735, British poet Alexander Pope lamented, in rhyme, being besieged by "a parson much bemus'd in beer." The cleric in question was apparently one of a horde of would-be poets who plagued Pope with requests that he read their verses. Pope meant that the parson had found his muse -- his inspiration -- in beer. That use of "bemus'd" harks back to a 1705 letter in which Pope wrote of "Poets … irrecoverably Be-mus'd." In both letter and poem, Pope used "bemused" to allude to being inspired by or devoted to one of the Muses, the Greek sister goddesses of art, music, and literature. The lexicographers who followed him, however, interpreted "bemus'd in beer" as meaning "left confused by beer," and their confusion gave rise to the first modern sense of "bemused" above.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "tramontane," our Word of the Day from November 15? The answer is …

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