con·​fuse | \ kən-ˈfyüz How to pronounce confuse (audio) \
confused; confusing

Definition of confuse

transitive verb

1 : to disturb in mind or purpose : throw off The directions she gave confused us.
2a : to make indistinct : blur Stop confusing the issue.
b : to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other confuse money with comfort Do not confuse the words "flaunt" and "flout".
c : to mix indiscriminately : jumble Their arms, legs, and bodies were confused together, till they resembled … two serpents interlaced.— Thomas Medwin
3a : to make embarrassed : abash
4 archaic : to bring to ruin

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Other Words from confuse

confusingly \ kən-​ˈfyü-​ziŋ-​lē How to pronounce confusingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of confuse in a Sentence

The general was trying to confuse the enemy. The new evidence only confused matters further. You must be confusing me with someone else.
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Recent Examples on the Web The present system confuses everyone — rich and poor, those with a lot of formal education and those with little — and doesn’t serve the interests of elderly patients. Michael Altman, STAT, "We ventured into the Medicare Part D drug plan forest — and got lost," 30 Dec. 2019 However, two products—cover scents (like acorn and pine) and Ozonics did confuse the dog somewhat and prolonged the time needed to detect the scent. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Guide to Playing the Wind," 2 Dec. 2019 Real estate terms can often cross multiple barriers and possibly be confusing to understand when choosing a type of multi-unit building; some of which can be similar are condominiums, townhomes, and lofts. Valerie Sweeten, Houston Chronicle, "Condo Life: Know the facts about your property choices," 26 Oct. 2019 This might be confusing for a lot of people because last year, Thanksgiving was celebrated almost a week earlier, on November 22. Sophia Caraballo, Woman's Day, "When Is Thanksgiving 2019?," 7 Oct. 2019 The money for the purchases flowed from Iran through Turkey to the United States, obscured within a complex web of shell companies and pseudonymous bank accounts designed to confuse investigators and hide the true identities of the end users. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Smuggling in plain sight: How foreign businesses help Iran violate US sanctions," 17 Dec. 2019 And with the Liberal Democrats neck-and-neck with Labour in districts like the Two Cities, that has left even the most calculating anti-Brexit voters confused about what to do. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "How an Anti-Brexit London District Could Help Boris Johnson Triumph," 30 Nov. 2019 Republicans will take every opportunity to interrupt, confuse, and attack the legitimacy of the proceedings. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "Watch Live: The House Intelligence Committee’s Open Hearings in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry," 13 Nov. 2019 One consequence is that the Baltic states are particular targets for falsehoods intended to confuse and destabilise. The Economist, "Lithuanians are using software to fight back against fake news," 24 Oct. 2019

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

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First Known Use of confuse

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for confuse

Middle English confusen, back-formation from confused "frustrated, ruined," participle based on Anglo-French confus, borrowed from Latin confūsus, past participle of confundere "to pour together, blend, bring into disorder, destroy, disconcert" — more at confound

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Time Traveler for confuse

Time Traveler

The first known use of confuse was in the 14th century

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Statistics for confuse

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Confuse.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for confuse


How to pronounce confuse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of confuse

: to make (someone) uncertain or unable to understand something
: to make (something) difficult to understand
: to mistakenly think that one person or thing is another person or thing : to mistake (one person or thing) for another


con·​fuse | \ kən-ˈfyüz How to pronounce confuse (audio) \
confused; confusing

Kids Definition of confuse

1 : to make uncertain or unable to understand : perplex The directions confused me and I got lost.
2 : to fail to tell apart Teachers always confused the twins.

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More from Merriam-Webster on confuse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confuse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with confuse

Spanish Central: Translation of confuse

Nglish: Translation of confuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confuse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on confuse

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


to insert between existing elements

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