per·​plex·​i·​ty | \ pər-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce perplexity (audio) \
plural perplexities

Definition of perplexity

1 : the state of being perplexed : bewilderment
2 : something that perplexes

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Examples of perplexity in a Sentence

There was a look of perplexity on his face. He stared at her in perplexity. We will never solve all of the perplexities of life.
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Recent Examples on the Web

After weeks of perplexity, Dr. Nielsen woke up one night with an idea. New York Times, "Wired Bacteria Form Nature’s Power Grid: ‘We Have an Electric Planet’," 1 July 2019 The 2018-19 Broadway season will be remembered for those gripping moments of simple honesty when an actor, burrowed deep in a role’s human perplexity, revealed ourselves to ourselves. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Essential Arts: Call it a comeback — MOCA’s new shows reveal an institution ascendant," 15 June 2019 And voters should pay close attention to his sweetly subtle performance, which gets richer as the season deepens Ramy’s moral perplexity. Darren Franich,, "Emmys 2019: Consider Ramy Youssef for writing, directing, and starring in Ramy," 13 June 2019 In Menderes, Javed’s request was greeted with perplexity. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 This is exactly the perplexity experienced by quantum physicists. Quanta Magazine, "There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.," 4 June 2018 Among its abundant charms are the fragments of shtick the pair perform blithely, almost unconsciously, in their offstage lives—Ollie (John C. Reilly), doing his delicate little dance steps, Stan (Steve Coogan) scratching his head in mock perplexity. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Stan & Ollie’ Review: Fat, Lean, Funny and Fine," 3 Jan. 2019 On a number of occasions Stephens was seen looking up to her team in the stands, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders with a look of perplexity on her face. Sandra Harwitt, USA TODAY, "American Sloane Stephens knocked out in first round at Wimbledon," 2 July 2018 Adding to the perplexity is the fact that Kaliningrad already had a stadium. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "Russian City’s Dazzling New Soccer Stadium Outshines Its Team," 27 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perplexity.' 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 perplexity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perplexity

Middle English perplexite, from Middle French perplexité, from Late Latin perplexitat-, perplexitas, from Latin perplexus

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Statistics for perplexity

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perplexity

The first known use of perplexity was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for perplexity



English Language Learners Definition of perplexity

: the state of being very confused because something is difficult to understand
: something that is confusing and difficult to understand


per·​plex·​i·​ty | \ pər-ˈplek-sə-tē How to pronounce perplexity (audio) \
plural perplexities

Kids Definition of perplexity

1 : a puzzled or anxious state of mind The school stared in perplexity at this incredible folly.— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
2 : something that puzzles

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Comments on perplexity

What made you want to look up perplexity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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