per·​plex·​ing pər-ˈplek-siŋ How to pronounce perplexing (audio)
: difficult to understand : causing confusion
A perplexing feature of insomnia is that people seem to overestimate their sleep loss.Rita L. Atkinson et al.
Chronic acalculous biliary disorders are among the most perplexing diagnostic and therapeutic challenges in medicine.Richard M. Gore
A perplexing problem, often encountered by cat owners, is that of a refusal to use the litterbox after using it for years in the past.Susan L. Mathews
perplexingly adverb
a perplexingly complex problem
This was all that I could observe of her in the dim light and under the perplexingly strange circumstances of our meeting. Wilkie Collins

Examples of perplexing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the hands of the Surrealist Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, the answer is a resounding — and perplexing — yes. Evan Moffitt, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 There are perplexing plans and plot developments that could arguably rise to the level of plot holes. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 27 Feb. 2024 On the other hand, the profusion of perfume content in isolation and across social media was perplexing. Molly Young, New York Times, 19 Mar. 2024 Made to withstand the harsh climate of the desert and thrive in it, the dead and decaying desert plants throughout the Sonoran landscape may be perplexing to those who see it. Caralin Nunes, The Arizona Republic, 18 Mar. 2024 In an interesting and perplexing turn of natural events, the large female bass that were protecting their eggs with their lives just hours before can turn cannibalistic and begin feeding on their very own hatchlings. Shaye Baker, Field & Stream, 6 Mar. 2024 His demand to be reinstated at Verve is perplexing in light of his efforts, as reported in the press, to try to start a small agency of his own. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Feb. 2024 Not pursuing future third-party IP might make business sense, but abandoning a project that would so obviously be a huge hit is perplexing and disappointing to say the least. Erik Kain, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 For those just arriving, being caught in the middle of the nation’s debate over immigration can feel perplexing. Arelis R. Hernández, Washington Post, 29 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perplexing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1585, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of perplexing was in 1585

Dictionary Entries Near perplexing

Cite this Entry

“Perplexing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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