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

Astronomers are still puzzling over what might be emitting them. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Jocelyn Bell Burnell wins $3 million prize for discovering pulsars," 6 Sep. 2018 But the critique puzzles Fed officials and some economists because there is little evidence of turmoil in the two markets where the central bank actively intervened: Treasurys and mortgage debt. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "A $4 Trillion Scapegoat for Market Volatility: the Fed’s Shrinking Portfolio," 28 Jan. 2019 The investigators were puzzled and couldn’t explain the discrepancy. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Urban Meyer and Ohio State care more about a game than victims of domestic violence," 31 Aug. 2018 Virus Doctors were initially puzzled by Lane’s illness, testing her for various infections — but the tests kept coming back negative, Barron told PEOPLE in February. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "New Mexico Mom, 27, Dies After Contracting Extremely Rare Rodent-Borne Virus," 1 May 2018 At first, Nespoli was puzzled, but eventually discovered the cosmic culprit behind the malfunction. P.k. French, WIRED, "How to Be an Amateur VR Cinematographer—250 Miles Above the Earth," 16 Apr. 2018 Economists were puzzled by the decline because reports from individual retailers in recent weeks, though soft, hadn’t suggested such a disappointing holiday season. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "Retail Sales Declined in December at Fastest Pace Since 2009," 14 Feb. 2019 Residents observed a rare but breathtaking natural phenomena that puzzles scientists to this day. Caroline Picard, House Beautiful, "Watch the Mesmerizing "Earthquake Lights" That Lit Up New Zealand's Sky," 14 Nov. 2016 The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been puzzled by the claims from the president, according to Fox News. John T. Bennett, The Seattle Times, "Trump says California diverts water that should be used against fires," 6 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Perhaps the brown and green-eyed kills had already happened and the blue-eyed takedown was the final piece of the puzzle. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Has Green Eyes on Game of Thrones?," 29 Apr. 2019 Ted Sundquist, a former NFL player, manager and commentator, says the GM, quarterback and head coach are crucial pieces of the puzzle. Steve Rosenbush, WSJ, "What Your CEO Is Reading: Who Is the True Leader of the NFL Franchise?," 26 Apr. 2019 Quite possibly the most important piece of the puzzle is spring-cleaning. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Here’s How to Transition Your Skin-Care Routine From Winter to Spring," 12 Mar. 2019 And Anna’s murder is a puzzle with a lot of possible solutions, involving everything from a secret past to a shady business deal. Noel Murray, The Verge, "This weekend, stream some ‘Nordic noir’ on Netflix, starting with Deadwind," 9 Nov. 2018 The fact that the ocean conveyor belt mixes downward in the North Atlantic rather than the North Pacific, for example, is an interesting puzzle that has been debated. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Mad scientists flip the Earth’s spin in climate models, watch water go nuts," 17 Oct. 2018 And that's the real wondrous puzzle of black holes. Denise Chow /, NBC News, "Physicist Brian Greene on the three biggest science mysteries he'd like to see solved," 10 June 2018 The move has been a thorny political puzzle for the district. Bethany Barnes, OregonLive.com, "Once again, Portland Public School botches community outreach over school relocation," 30 May 2018 Transformation has been a difficult puzzle for newspapers. John Wilkens, Pomerado News, "Physician turned entrepreneur begins work with new patients: Union-Tribune and L.A. Times," 13 Apr. 2018

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

23 May 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

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one that collects or salvages junk

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