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

While Duncan was perplexed as to why more people weren’t calling downtown home, Rodie wanted to know what residents who were there did for entertainment and nightlife. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "‘Profit-with-a-purpose’ Churchill thrives in downtown Phoenix," 4 July 2019 Many social media users appeared perplexed as the kerfuffle unfolded., "The Betsy Ross flag: Has it become a symbol of hate?," 2 July 2019 Author Marianne Williamson rose to social media fame on Thursday night after her performance in Round 2 of this week’s Democratic debates left Americans perplexed and amused. Christi Carras,, "Who is Marianne Williamson? Five things to know about the debate’s biggest mystery," 28 June 2019 The reading lasted roughly an hour, and left many viewers perplexed. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Hollywood Tried to Save America with a Live Reading of the Mueller Report," 25 June 2019 Advocates say they are also perplexed by Duke's decision to request approval for the construction of a large natural gas plant months after a similar proposal by Vectren was rejected by state regulators. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Duke Energy proposes a 19% rate increase for residential electricity customers," 2 July 2019 Some Boulder residents on Wednesday were perplexed by a twisting cloud formation above the foothills. Mitchell Byars, The Denver Post, "Boulder possibly witness to rare helix cloud formation," 20 June 2019 Perhaps in the future, the two models will continue to use the Cannes Film Festival as their yearly meeting spot to perplex us all with their stunning look-alike features. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bella Hadid and Carla Bruni Twin at Cannes Film Festival Again," 16 May 2019 Easter Island, Chile One of the world’s most enduring mysteries, Easter Island continues to perplex visitors and experts alike. National Geographic, "Ancient Isles: England, Ireland, and Scotland," 8 Apr. 2019

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

21 Jul 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 complain fretfully

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