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 The Spurs’ success on the road continues to perplex them. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs ready to keep 'fighting' against surging Wizards," 25 Apr. 2021 In the space of just six pages Askildsen manages to perplex, unsettle and even amuse his reader. Malcom Forbes Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Everything Like Before,' by Kjell Askildsen, translated from the Norwegian by Sean Kinsella," 23 Apr. 2021 With only one deep-lying safety, Cover 1 defenses give Martindale an extra defender to perplex or, more likely, pressure the quarterback. Jonas Shaffer,, "Ravens draft preview: Trevon Moehrig headlines the safety class, but where does he fit?," 16 Apr. 2021 But the six-man front, the blitzes and the coverage schemes that the Patriots — and the Chicago Bears before them — employed to perplex the Rams are no longer a mystery. Houston Mitchell Assistant Sports Editor, Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: UCLA routs San Diego, 83-56," 10 Dec. 2020 Cure ID was designed to cut down that time and cost, particularly to focus on rare diseases that perplex doctors and don't always get much attention from major drug companies. Ryan Prior, CNN, "The FDA's new app for frontline doctors could help discover Covid-19 treatments faster," 9 Sep. 2020 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

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

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perplex.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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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