mys·​ti·​fy | \ˈmis-tə-ˌfī \
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 \ -​ˌfī(-​ə)r \ noun
mystifyingly \ -​ˌfī-​iŋ-​lē \ 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

Cybersecurity experts and members of Congress said they were mystified by the move, though some suggested Mr. Bolton did not want any competitive power centers emerging inside the national security apparatus. Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, "White House Eliminates Cybersecurity Coordinator Role," 15 May 2018 Their flirtation with isolation ball in crucial moments mystified a fanbase accustomed to non-stop onslaughts of ball movement and shot-making. Ben Golliver,, "Warriors' Greatness May Annoy Some but They Aren't Going Anywhere," 9 June 2018 In the aftermath was the haunting question that mystified anyone who is a parent, as well as those who knew the families best: How could the conspirators have done this to their own children? New York Times, "At the Heart of Indonesia Terror Attacks, a Well-Liked Family," 18 May 2018 The reason Tiger is mystified by his putting struggles is the same reason countless other golfers are baffled by their own putting woes, said short-game guru Dave Pelz. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "Tiger Woods needs a reality check after latest putting woes at U.S. Open," 15 June 2018 The video, directed by Dave Meyers, was released just hours after the single, and is filled with can't miss moments and imageries that left fans mystified. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande's "God Is a Woman" Music Video Is Full of Vagina References," 13 July 2018 Perry gave no explanation for Faehn's removal, and at least five other USA Gymnastics staffers were let go in what the organization called a restructuring that mystified some fans and athletes. NBC News, "USA Gymnastics' Kerry Perry to be grilled by Congress on abuse," 23 May 2018 Nicholas Poehl, lawyer for Dmitrios Pagourtzis, says his family are mystified about his motives. Shelby Webb, Houston Chronicle, "Houston teachers to train for active shooters, discuss school security at summit," 5 June 2018 But the Maggiore killings are believed to be his first, and detectives who have worked the case for decades still are mystified by what triggered the slayings. Marjie Lundstrom And Sam Stanton, sacbee, "Rapes and burglaries had occurred. But this was the first time the East Area Rapist killed | The Sacramento Bee," 14 May 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 2018

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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 \
mystified; mystifying

Kids Definition of mystify

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

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Comments on mystify

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


full of whispering sounds

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