verb con·found \ kən-ˈfau̇nd , kän- \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of confound

confounded; confounding; confounds
1 a archaic : to bring to ruin : destroy
b : baffle, frustrate
  • Conferences … are not for accomplishment but to confound knavish tricks.
  • —John Kenneth Galbraith
2 obsolete : consume, waste
3 a : to put to shame : discomfit
  • a performance that confounded the critics
b : refute
  • sought to confound his arguments
4 : damn
5 : to throw (a person) into confusion or perplexity
  • tactics to confound the enemy
6 a : to fail to discern differences between : mix up
  • They implored Charles not to confound the innocent with the guilty …
  • —T. B. Macaulay
b : to increase the confusion of


play \kən-ˈfau̇n-dər, kän-\ noun


play \kən-ˈfau̇n-diŋ-lē, kän-\ adverb

Examples of confound in a Sentence

  1. The strategy confounded our opponents.

  2. The murder case has confounded investigators.

  3. The school's team confounded all predictions and won the game.

  4. The success of the show confounded critics.

Recent Examples of confound from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confound.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of confound

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 5found

Synonym Discussion of 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

CONFOUND Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of confound for English Language Learners

  • : to surprise and confuse (someone or something)

  • : to prove (someone or something) wrong

  • —used as an interjection to express anger or annoyance

CONFOUND Defined for Kids


verb con·found \ kən-ˈfau̇nd , kän- \

Definition of confound for Students

confounded; confounding
: confuse 1
  • The crime has confounded police.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up confound? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


resembling the blue of the sky

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!