mys·​ti·​fy | \ ˈmi-stə-ˌfī How to pronounce mystify (audio) \
mystified; mystifying

Definition of mystify

transitive verb

1 : to perplex the mind of : bewilder
2 : to make mysterious or obscure mystify an interpretation of a prophecy

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Other Words from mystify

mystifier \ ˈmi-​stə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce mystifier (audio) \ noun
mystifyingly \ ˈmi-​stə-​ˌfī-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce mystifyingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of mystify in a Sentence

The cause of the disease mystified doctors for many years. The magician has been mystifying his audiences for years with his amazing tricks.

Recent Examples on the Web

Illusionist David Reed-Brown, from McBride’s Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas, will show students how to mystify and amaze their friends and families with a mix of close-up and stand-up magic using cards, ropes, scarves, sponges, and wands., "Community News For The Farmington Valley Edition," 16 Sep. 2019 In just the past three years, mystified pilots flying Boeing NG or 777 jets — the same models cited in the FAA warning on cellphones — have reported more than a dozen instances of important flight information disappearing. Anita Sharpe,, "Are cellphones a flight danger? They are on some Boeing jets.," 18 July 2019 That isn’t to deny the existence of the former; Tatum’s mystifying efforts to become a mid-post specialist proved to be a failure on every level. Rob Mahoney,, "Top 100 NBA Players of 2020," 12 Sep. 2019 You may be mystified by some conversations or feel that your meaning is misunderstood, but this brief fog dissipates quickly. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Sept. 6, 2019: Happy birthday Idris Elba; stick to the facts Aquarius," 6 Sep. 2019 How the company expects to comply with the vast array of regulation is mystifying. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Five major issues raised by Facebook’s Libra hearing before Congress," 16 July 2019 But, as hundreds of thousands of Nigerians apply annually, rejection rates and a lack of clarity over what consular officers base their rejection on has resulted in a reality where the process has been mystified as a high-stakes game of chance. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Trump’s clampdown on US visas for Nigerians is cultivating fear—and “fake news”," 17 July 2019 McStay, his wife, Summer, 43, and their sons Gianni, 4 and Joey Jr. 3, vanished from their Fallbrook home in February 2010, leaving family members mystified and investigators stumped. San Diego Union-Tribune, "As jurors weigh execution for McStay murders, defense points to ‘lingering doubt’ of guilt," 20 June 2019 For her part, Kufta walked away with Sunset League MVP honors, a fact that still mystifies her to this day. Andrew Turner,, "Daily Pilot Softball Dream Team: Unexpected year from Kelli Kufta kept Huntington Beach strong," 8 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mystify.' 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 mystify

1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mystify

borrowed from French mystifier "to hoodwink, dupe," from Greek mýstēs "person initiated (into a religious cult)" + French -ifier -ify — more at mystic entry 1

Note: French mystifier was used by 18th-century literati in the context of elaborate practical jokes in which some pseudo-magical procedure would be performed on the subject of the joke as a sort of mock initiation. Such a joke is described by the playwright Charles-Simon Favart (1710-92) in a letter of June 24, 1760, apparently the earliest known occurrence of the verb: one Poinsinet is persuaded that the application of a magic ointment has made him invisible and he then becomes the butt of various jests. According to Favart, Poinsinet was dubbed le mystifié (presumably, "one made an inititate") as a result of the jests, which he refers to collectively as la mystification. (See Mémoires et correspondances littéraires, dramatiques et anecdotiques de C.S. Favart, tome 1, Paris, 1808, p. 50-52.) The meaning of the English word has been influenced by mystery entry 1, mystical, etc.

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Statistics for mystify

Last Updated

4 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for mystify

The first known use of mystify was in 1814

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English Language Learners Definition of mystify

: to confuse (someone) completely


mys·​ti·​fy | \ ˈmi-stə-ˌfī How to pronounce mystify (audio) \
mystified; mystifying

Kids Definition of mystify

: to confuse or bewilder completely His strange behavior has mystified us.

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More from Merriam-Webster on mystify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mystify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mystify

Spanish Central: Translation of mystify

Nglish: Translation of mystify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mystify for Arabic Speakers

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