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

But for a book implicitly structured around race and law enforcement, the omission of Turner’s controversial six-month sentence feels puzzling and an example of how Gladwell’s sharp eye can overlook a bigger picture. Chris Barton, chicagotribune.com, "‘Talking to Strangers’: Malcolm Gladwell investigates the dangers of misunderstanding, from Sandra Bland to Bernie Madoff," 11 Sep. 2019 That’s the million-dollar question that’s puzzling epidemiologists. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Is it safe to vape?," 9 Sep. 2019 During the meeting, state board members puzzled over some agenda items and decided to postpone some contract approvals and other proposals such as a move to, at least temporarily, shut down the virtual school’s foundation. Beth Kassab, orlandosentinel.com, "New Florida Virtual School leader to earn $175,000," 17 July 2019 The bid failed after several board members said they were puzzled by the proposal. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando airport lawyer Marcos Marchena submits resignation -- will leave at end of year," 12 Aug. 2019 Andrews-Sullivan’s dispute with Lopez is particularly puzzling. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Problems mount for new San Antonio councilwoman," 24 July 2019 For market watchers and finance industry savants, Greenspan was a human koan upon which they were expected to puzzle out their own economic enlightenment. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 July 2019 Ford sources say they're puzzled by even mundane situations, such as missing emblems and trim pieces and having the wrong wheels. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Mysterious problems disrupt delivery of 2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator," 18 June 2019 The fact Rundgren hasn't been nominated is rather puzzling. Troy L. Smith, cleveland.com, "Rock Hall Class of 2019: Predicting next year's inductees," 16 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the excused absences do not by themselves solve every puzzle. Anne Barnard, New York Times, "Climate Strike N.Y.C.: 1.1 Million Can Skip School for Protest," 16 Sep. 2019 The bubbles could also solve an old puzzle in radioastronomy. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "Giant “Bubbles” Spotted Around Milky Way’s Black Hole," 11 Sep. 2019 The agents describe working each case as solving a puzzle, except the shapes for the pieces constantly change and there are no borders to put together first. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Drugs, guns and murder for hire: Meet the Coloradans leading the world’s criminal investigations into the dark web," 31 Aug. 2019 The class will discuss how DNA tests can help solve genealogical puzzles and will cover some questions that DNA tests can’t answer. San Diego Union-Tribune, "11-Year old spearheads fundraising effort for Operation HOPE," 16 Aug. 2019 Solving these puzzles means that the combined effects of many interrelated processes—like tides, waves, ocean circulation, storm surges, and rainfall runoff—can be simulated at coastlines and in the ocean, all in the same graphic. Susan Crawford, WIRED, "Computer Models, Epic Floods, and the Fate of Coastal Cities," 18 July 2019 This week, the University of California Irvine announced that an artificially intelligent system solved the puzzle in just over a second, besting the current human world record by more than two seconds. Peter Holley, courant.com, "How quickly can AI solve a Rubik’s Cube?," 17 July 2019 Land-link pairings like the one in Palmer represent one possible step toward solving a nationwide puzzle – how to help experienced farmers exit out of agriculture while building an on-ramp for new producers. Sarah Matusek, The Christian Science Monitor, "Farmers grow the food. But who’s helping new farmers put down roots?," 9 July 2019 Her case went cold for 37 years, until DNA evidence and genealogy experts helped solve the puzzle: The victim was her friend Mary Silvani. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "She was killed 37 years ago — and her friends just found out: 'She was my bridesmaid'," 7 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

10 Oct 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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