mystify

verb mys·ti·fy \ ˈmis-tə-ˌfī \
Updated on: 20 Apr 2018

Definition of mystify

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

mystifier

play \-ˌfī(-ə)r\ noun

mystifyingly

play \-ˌfī-iŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of mystify in a Sentence

  1. The cause of the disease mystified doctors for many years.

  2. The magician has been mystifying his audiences for years with his amazing tricks.

Recent Examples of mystify from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of mystify

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


MYSTIFY Defined for English Language Learners

mystify

Definition of mystify for English Language Learners

  • : to confuse (someone) completely


MYSTIFY Defined for Kids

mystify

verb mys·ti·fy \ ˈmi-stə-ˌfī \

Definition of mystify for Students

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


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