puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzling (audio) , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic : complicate, entangle
3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity
2a : something that puzzles
b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

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Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər How to pronounce puzzler (audio) , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

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

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb

The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Noun

a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Dallas’ impractical use of the Trinity River puzzled Carlos Flores and many other readers who asked Curious Texas: Did Dallas ever try to be an inland port? Dallas News, "Why doesn’t Dallas use the Trinity River as a port? Curious Texas investigates," 20 June 2019 Scientists are puzzled by a disturbing trend in the waters along four Gulf Coast states: almost 300 dead and dying dolphins have washed ashore since February, about three times the usual number. CBS News, "Dolphins are dying at an alarming rate along the Gulf Coast. No one knows why.," 19 June 2019 But, believe it or not, that wasn’t the only thing fans were puzzled by. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Everything Fans Flipped Out About on Last Night’s Game of Thrones," 13 May 2019 Other analysts were puzzled by the timing of the change at the helm. Jan Dahinten, Bloomberg.com, "ABB CEO Leaves Abruptly After Years of Pressure From Investors," 17 Apr. 2019 While initially struck by the ornamentation on the daggers, Dominy was puzzled by the fact that the daggers were made from two completely different bones. Katy Scott, CNN, "Why warriors in New Guinea used human bones as formidable daggers," 5 May 2018 Historians have long puzzled over the fate of the missing star, which was likely clipped from the banner more than a century ago. Maddie Burakoff, Smithsonian, "David Copperfield Welcomes New Citizens With a Magic Show and a History Lesson," 14 June 2019 Doctors have long been puzzled by white coat hypertension (WCH), a condition that causes a person’s blood pressure reading to be high in a doctor’s office but normal at home. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "What is White Coat Hypertension? New Study Links the Condition to Increased Risk of Heart Trouble," 11 June 2019 For years, João Duarte has puzzled over a seemingly boring underwater expanse off the coast of Portugal. National Geographic, "A tectonic plate may have peeled apart—and that could shrink the Atlantic Ocean," 6 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Researchers published their findings in Nature Machine Intelligence, noting that their system’s algorithm was given 10 billion combinations of the puzzle. Peter Holley, Washington Post, "How quickly can AI solve a Rubik’s Cube? In less time than it took to you read this headline.," 16 July 2019 According to The Truth Initiative, reducing the number of depictions of tobacco on screen is just one piece of the puzzle. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Netflix Promises to Reduce Depictions of Tobacco in Furture Projects," 6 July 2019 Samira's autopsy revealed another piece of the puzzle. Asena Basak, CBS News, "Convicted killer of pregnant Florida mother: "I did not kill Samira Watkins"," 3 July 2019 In that sense, Fotu is perhaps the Utes' most important piece of the puzzle. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "The 10 best defensive linemen in college football for the 2019 season has Big Ten flavor," 2 July 2019 The rest of the puzzle was solved by Jacob Bjerknes, a Norwegian at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1969. The Economist, "The South Asian monsoon, past, present and future," 27 June 2019 Keep on coming back here to see the progress unfold as each piece of the puzzle gets renovated and upgraded. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "HGTV's Chip Wade Is Renovating Misty Mill, a Stunning Lake House in Georgia," 26 June 2019 But in the late 90s, the first piece of the puzzle was the relocation of the downtown museum housing the motorcycle collection of dairy tycoon George Barber. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al.com, "Buc-ee’s breaks ground at bustling Leeds interchange," 26 June 2019 Boone says of providing a complete travel experience, rather than just one piece of the puzzle. Sarah Feldberg, SFChronicle.com, "Can Airbnb transform adventure travel?," 20 June 2019

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

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

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Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puzzle

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

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More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 : something that perplexes : mystery

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More from Merriam-Webster on puzzle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puzzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puzzle

Spanish Central: Translation of puzzle

Nglish: Translation of puzzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of puzzle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on puzzle

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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