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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web To avoid any park perplexity, plan ahead by checking exactly which parks are ineligible, then browse this interactive map that showcases the locations of the 200-plus participating state parks. J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 This air of wry perplexity turned out to be a defining Willis trait, and was central to his remarkable run of performances in the mid-to-late nineties. Adam Nayman, The New Yorker, 6 Apr. 2022 His subjects’ expressions blended perplexity and anger, defiance and determination, weariness and fear. New York Times, 18 Mar. 2022 His pale and beaky face is set, not unlike Ethan Hawke’s, in a near-perpetual frown of perplexity, as if he were defeated by the basic code of existence, and by other folks’ apparent ability to crack it. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 4 Feb. 2022 Their comments revealed perplexity, anger, and frustration. Usha Lee Mcfarling, STAT, 13 Dec. 2021 There may be perplexity at the way some exhibits are curated and exasperation with captions that do not satisfy. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 3 Dec. 2021 West turns their example into his own soul-twisting solipsism that now, after WuTang Clan, exemplifies modern black male perplexity. Armond White, National Review, 3 Nov. 2021 That moment of intense perplexity led me to write my first book, which sought to fathom the enigma of mountain-worship. Willa Glickman, The New York Review of Books, 10 July 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for perplexity

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

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Dictionary Entries Near perplexity



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Cite this Entry

“Perplexity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for perplexity


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, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
2 : something that puzzles

More from Merriam-Webster on perplexity

Nglish: Translation of perplexity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perplexity for Arabic Speakers


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