con·​found kən-ˈfau̇nd How to pronounce confound (audio)
confounded; confounding; confounds

transitive verb

: to throw (a person) into confusion or perplexity
tactics to confound the enemy
: refute
sought to confound his arguments
: to put to shame : discomfit
a performance that confounded the critics
: damn
: to fail to discern differences between : mix up
They implored Charles not to confound the innocent with the guilty …T. B. Macaulay
: to increase the confusion of
: baffle, frustrate
Conferences … are not for accomplishment but to confound knavish tricks.John Kenneth Galbraith
archaic : to bring to ruin : destroy
obsolete : consume, waste
confounder noun
confoundingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for confound

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 confound in a Sentence

The strategy confounded our opponents. The murder case has confounded investigators. The school's team confounded all predictions and won the game. The success of the show confounded critics.
Recent Examples on the Web Instead, prices and demand have remained strong, confounding experts and stymying many first-time homebuyers. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 7 Sep. 2023 Bonello intended for the film to be a showcase for Seydoux’s flexible capacity — a quality that seemingly even confounds him. Vulture, 4 Sep. 2023 But then comes that utterly confounding, hard-to-parse ending. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 4 Sep. 2023 The surge in red ink has confounded many economists’ expectations. Jeff Stein, Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2023 Without going into the long, complicated and confounding history of the Irish under British rule, the story told here begins in the late 1960s, when Catholics in Derry and Belfast began to demonstrate for their civil rights. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 28 Aug. 2023 As the contest continued, some judges were confounded with the entries. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 27 Aug. 2023 The city’s explanation confounded Justice Department lawyers. oregonlive, 12 Aug. 2023 Climate change confounds a central tenet of libertarian free-market views. David Robert Grimes, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English confounden "to defeat, destroy, frustrate, bewilder," borrowed from Anglo-French confondre, going back to Latin confundere "to pour together, blend, bring into disorder, destroy, disconcert," from con- con- + fundere "to pour, shed" — more at found entry 5

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5b

Time Traveler
The first known use of confound was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near confound

Cite this Entry

“Confound.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​found kən-ˈfau̇nd How to pronounce confound (audio)
: to throw into disorder : mix up : confuse
our clever tactics confounded our opponents
confoundedly adverb

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