be·​wil·​der bi-ˈwil-dər How to pronounce bewilder (audio)
bewildered; bewildering bi-ˈwil-d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce bewilder (audio)

transitive verb

: to cause to lose one's bearings (see bearing sense 6c)
bewildered by the city's maze of roads
: to perplex or confuse especially by a complexity, variety, or multitude of objects or considerations
His decision bewildered her.
utterly bewildered by the instructions
bewilderedly adverb
bewilderedness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for bewilder

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally.

puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve.

the persistent fever puzzled the doctor

perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision.

a behavior that perplexed her friends

bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking.

a bewildering number of possibilities

distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests.

distracted by personal problems

nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible.

the remark left us utterly nonplussed

confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement.

the tragic news confounded us all

dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound.

was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Examples of bewilder in a Sentence

the change in policy seems to have bewildered many of our customers
Recent Examples on the Web Federal, state, and local authorities frequently made confusing or contradictory policy decisions, leaving Americans bewildered and frustrated. M. Anthony Mills, National Review, 5 Nov. 2023 The fourteen-year-old Priscilla, though unsurprisingly starstruck, wasn’t so much smitten with Elvis as bewildered by the intensity of the attachment that this world-famous man ten years her senior displayed. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2023 Appearing bewildered, Jean-Pierre asked for additional context. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, 1 Sep. 2023 Try Guys fans are bewildered after founding member Keith Habersberger and Try Wife Becky Habersberger just apparently hard launched a whole baby. Angela Yang, NBC News, 24 Sep. 2023 The other dogs agree to guide him through the unfamiliar and hazardous terrain between the big city where he was dropped off and Doug’s dilapidated small-town digs, encountering various other fauna (including Dennis Quaid) that bewilder and perplex them. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 17 Aug. 2023 Recently, China watchers have been bewildered the disappearance former Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who vanished more than a month ago just as Washington and Beijing renewed a push to stabilize strained relations. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, 7 Aug. 2023 Law-enforcement officials, missing-persons experts, and friends of Mitchel and Bonnie are bewildered by the dismissive attitude in Sullivan County, eerily reminiscent of how the office originally handled the case in 1973. Eric J. Greenberg, Rolling Stone, 5 Aug. 2023 Recently, the disappearance that has bewildered China watchers and led to unbridled social media speculation inside and outside the country is that of its top foreign affairs diplomat, Qin Gang, who went missing over a month ago. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 7 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1633, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bewilder was in 1633

Dictionary Entries Near bewilder

Cite this Entry

“Bewilder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​wil·​der bi-ˈwil-dər How to pronounce bewilder (audio)
bewildered; bewildering -d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce bewilder (audio)
: to confuse especially with a great many things to worry about
bewilderingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on bewilder

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