per·​plex | \ pər-ˈpleks How to pronounce perplex (audio) \
perplexed; perplexing; perplexes

Definition of perplex

transitive verb

1 : to make unable to grasp something clearly or to think logically and decisively about something her attitude perplexes me a perplexing problem
2 : to make intricate or involved : complicate

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Choose the Right Synonym for perplex

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

Examples of perplex in a Sentence

Questions about the meaning of life have always perplexed humankind. let's not perplex the issue further with irrelevant concerns
Recent Examples on the Web Thus alliances, human rights, altruism itself, all these perplex him. Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books, "Moving Backward: Hypocrisy and Human Rights," 3 June 2020 The first thing that tends to perplex most parents is our sleep schedule. cleveland, "How to deal with teenagers during the stay-at-home order -- according to a teenager: Elle Weber," 2 May 2020 She was perplexed that the social workers talked so much about her feelings rather than about her disease. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "China’s Struggles with Hospice Care," 30 Mar. 2020 Pasqually’s Pasta and Pizza, located in West Philadelphia, has no connection to Chuck E. Cheese, but the moniker likeness has also perplexed Grubhub users. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Is Chuck E. Cheese doing business under a new name on Grubhub?," 18 May 2020 Time’s elasticity has perplexed philosophers for millennia. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "There Are No Hours or Days in Coronatime," 8 May 2020 The development has perplexed physicians, who have scheduled a call with experts from around the globe this weekend to share information about cases. NBC News, "A different May Day, Biden denies sexual assault allegations and Queen releases "You Are The Champions"," 1 May 2020 Cincinnati Enquirer Brian Heid and his wife, Kelly, were perplexed. Alex Harrison,, "Heartland: Stories of good things happening in Ohio, Kentucky during coronavirus outbreak," 10 Apr. 2020 An intergalactic mystery has recently perplexed astronomers. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Strange Radio Signals from Space Just Vanished, So Now We Have a Tasty Astronomy Mystery on Our Hands," 8 Jan. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perplex

obsolete perplex, adjective, involved, perplexed, from Latin perplexus, from per- thoroughly + plexus involved, from past participle of plectere to braid, twine — more at per-, ply

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Time Traveler for perplex

Time Traveler

The first known use of perplex was in the 15th century

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Statistics for perplex

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perplex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for perplex


How to pronounce perplex (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of perplex

: to confuse (someone) very much


per·​plex | \ pər-ˈpleks How to pronounce perplex (audio) \
perplexed; perplexing

Kids Definition of perplex

: to make unable to understand : confuse The math lesson perplexed me.

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More from Merriam-Webster on perplex

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perplex

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perplex

Spanish Central: Translation of perplex

Nglish: Translation of perplex for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perplex for Arabic Speakers

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