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

Perhaps most perplexed by the ouster: Mr. Thomas himself. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Former Rusal Chair ‘Astonished’ U.S. Pushed Him Out," 31 Jan. 2019 In 1999, Edgar Pearce, a middle-aged man who had prepared the letters on the photocopier at his local library, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for a campaign that had perplexed anti-terrorist officers and cost millions of pounds. Simon R. Gardner, The Atlantic, "98 Years of Mail Fraud," 4 May 2018 Seemingly perplexed by the decision to award Kane the goal, Salah posted on his official Twitter page., "Liverpool's Mohamed Salah Takes to Twitter to Joke About Harry Kane's Golden Boot Obsession," 12 Apr. 2018 Given that Bell had been instrumental in the Carter-era creation of the Department of Education, the move perplexed just about everyone in Washington, conservative and liberal. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The State of American Trade Schools," 13 Mar. 2019 This viral Twitter video has many users perplexed, and even creeped out, about how much our plants actually move around in a single day. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "You Won't Believe How Much Your Plant Actually Moves in a Day," 4 Mar. 2019 Nouhou’s personal focus on his overall fitness has to be a welcome sign for the Sounders, who wondered about his maturity at times last season and were perplexed with his getting caught up the field defensively after some extended runs. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Slimmer, quicker Nouhou puts European rumors aside and focuses on improving for Sounders," 5 Feb. 2019 Ah, yes, much like grandmothers everywhere, Hollywood continues to be perplexed by women who are not mothers. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Here’s an Idea: Do Not Ask Celebrities—Or Any Women, Actually—When They’re Having a Baby," 15 Jan. 2019 The greens at Quail Hollow have perplexed Woods all week. Steve Reed,, "Tiger Woods: I'm getting close to putting it all together, winning," 5 May 2018

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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Statistics for perplex

Last Updated

28 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perplex

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

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More Definitions for perplex



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perplex

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perplex

Spanish Central: Translation of perplex

Nglish: Translation of perplex for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perplex for Arabic Speakers

Comments on perplex

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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