per·​plex | \pər-ˈpleks \
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

One reason the Georgia law might perplex drivers is that operating a car has become a lot more like operating a smartphone. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Driving Without a Smartphone," 10 July 2018 The film, starring Chloe Grace Moretz, chronicles Cahalan's curious disease, which perplexed doctors, until she was finally diagnosed with anti-NDMA receptor encephalitis, an exceptionally rare autoimmune disease. Houston Chronicle, "New Netflix movie explores disease studied by Houston doctor," 2 July 2018 But there is another trend that perplexes college baseball officials as much as those in the majors: Games that go on, and on, and on. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "Pace of Play Problems Plague College Baseball, Too," 25 June 2018 As the years went on and no follow-up seemed to be on the horizon, many fans were perplexed. Josh Rottenberg,, "After 14 long years, 'Incredibles 2' picks up with its family of suburban superheroes," 26 Apr. 2018 Stark, who was also at the event, appeared similarly perplexed by the subpoena. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio sues the city, subpoenas fellow council members," 8 June 2018 The strange discovery last month is just the latest example of researchers perplexed by the location of their animal transmitters. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Radio tagged birds tracked to last place you'd imagine - another animal's stomach," 2 July 2018 But Canadian officials said they were perplexed by Mr. Trump’s reaction since nothing Mr. Trudeau said was new. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, "Trump’s ‘Bully’ Attack on Trudeau Outrages Canadians," 10 June 2018 Beyond the soft silicone bit for your ear, there’s zero give or flex to the Ear Duos, and I was genuinely perplexed as to how to get them on at first. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Sony’s futuristic earbuds are a pain in the present," 29 June 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

27 Oct 2018

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 \
perplexed; perplexing

Kids Definition of perplex

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

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Comments on perplex

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