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

Even though head coach Gregg Popovich has largely treated Team USA as an equal opportunity roster, its frankly perplexing the degree to which Mitchell was frozen out down the stretch. Michael Shapiro,, "Team USA’s Backup Squad Finally Falls in FIBA World Cup," 11 Sep. 2019 Every profession has its own quirks—practices and norms that grow to seem unremarkable to insiders, but that leave those on the outside of the industry perplexed, or in a few cases, aghast. Fortune, "Want to Come Back to My Hotel Room—For an Interview? The Broadsheet," 4 Sep. 2019 The move to put the services away from Jefferson County, which has more defendants than Shelby County, has both angered and perplexed some in the legal system. Ivana Hrynkiw |, al, "Probationers can report monthly to downtown courthouse, notice says," 31 Aug. 2019 Women are, of course, no more innately ethical or benevolent than men are, and yet there’s something grimly perplexing about women who seem to help men subjugate other women. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "When Women Are Accused of Complicity," 17 Aug. 2019 That the Catholic Church should have acted as one of the brakes on that daft mysticism will perhaps perplex the Bill Mahers of the world, who understand so little about it. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "A Kind of Experiment, Separating Gender and Sex: Why the Church Says No," 11 June 2019 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is perplexed by (and investigating) a spate of serious lung disease cases which appear to be connected to vaping and e-cigarette use. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The Surprising Health Care Companies Changing the World: Brainstorm Health," 19 Aug. 2019 As a new mother, Wang said she was perplexed that such a strict policy of social engineering could take hold. Jeffrey Fleishmanstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "She was born into China’s one-child policy. Now, she’s unearthing its ghosts," 9 Aug. 2019 Now, Collins is on the ground attempting to solve a puzzle that’s perplexed an industry approaching $1 billion revenues — where are all the female gamers? Jake Seiner, The Denver Post, "All-girls school becomes first in U.S. with varsity esports," 28 July 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

13 Oct 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

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