bam·​boo·​zle bam-ˈbü-zəl How to pronounce bamboozle (audio)
bamboozled; bamboozling bam-ˈbüz-liŋ How to pronounce bamboozle (audio)

transitive verb

: to deceive by underhanded methods : dupe, hoodwink
I got bamboozled by the salesperson to buy a more expensive model.
: to confuse, frustrate, or throw off thoroughly or completely
a quarterback bamboozled by an unexpected defense
bamboozlement noun

Did you know?

In 1710, Irish author Jonathan Swift wrote an article on "the continual Corruption of our English Tongue" in which he complained of "the Choice of certain Words invented by some pretty Fellows." Among the inventions Swift disliked was bamboozle, which was used by contemporary criminals. Other than that, the origin of bamboozle remains a mystery, but the word has clearly defied Swift's assertion that "All new affected Modes of Speech ... are the first perishing Parts in any Language."

Examples of bamboozle in a Sentence

bamboozled by con men into buying worthless land in the desert I'm completely bamboozled by the latest changes in the tax code
Recent Examples on the Web Gay actors are bamboozled into invasive, distasteful postures the same way black actors are bamboozled into defensiveness. Armond White, National Review, 9 Aug. 2023 The press, bamboozled by the U.S. government, had shown little interest in the case. Jane Perlez, Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023 For these reasons, museum security relies heavily on the intuition and attentiveness of employees, who, like all of us, can be distracted, beguiled, or bamboozled. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 19 June 2023 Some have led to a fair bit of confusion about the identity of the animal in question — perhaps you’ve even been bamboozled by one or two yourself. Marisa Sloan, Discover Magazine, 3 June 2023 We got bamboozled into staying in this shack on the beach that had rats running around at night. Juliet Pennington,, 4 May 2023 This seemingly simple process bamboozled many art experts who staked money and reputations on these paintings. Christopher Parker, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Apr. 2023 Burned, bamboozled and conned. Joseph Goodman |, al, 31 Mar. 2023 Lanchester suggested that, just as in ancient Egypt, the world of modern finance has its own set of priests, with their own elaborate rituals, myths and symbols, all aimed at justifying, as well as bamboozling, mystifying and intimidating. Steve Denning, Forbes, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bamboozle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1703, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bamboozle was in 1703


Dictionary Entries Near bamboozle

Cite this Entry

“Bamboozle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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