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

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 If one is in a state of perplexity and bewilderment so severe that they are paralyzed, they are said to be in tharn. Peter Rock, New York Times, "On the Unsettling Allure of ‘Watership Down’," 15 May 2018 Before a breakthrough moment in last night’s episode of Westworld, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) twitched through season 2 with a uniform expression of perplexity., "The Hidden Meaning Of Bernard's Red Ball On Westworld," 14 May 2018 The voices hover and slip past one another, find peace and then tumble into more eddies of perplexity. New York Times, "12 Surprising Reasons to Be Grateful for the Arts in 2017," 21 Dec. 2017 While Goldsmith and Lederman are better guides for the legal question, as a wonk who watched and sometimes helped expand this gray zone, my perplexity breaks down in three ways. Loren Dejonge Schulman, The Atlantic, "Washington Is Never Quite Sure Where It Is at War," 1 Nov. 2017 By early afternoon, Twitter was a hot mess of Pitino perplexity. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "How Pitino's firing unfolded, as told by social media," 16 Oct. 2017

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

16 Apr 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).


an enemy or opponent

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