puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzle (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 puzzle (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 In years without a pandemic, Americans are firmly divided into two camps: those who can’t resist a bargain and show up in-person, and those who puzzle over why anyone would risk being trampled over a discounted TV. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Black Friday Is Big in Taiwan, but Why?," 27 Nov. 2020 Others, including many middle and high schools, have remained closed as educators tried to puzzle out systems to keep staff and students safe with multiple class periods and frequent movement throughout the campus. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Learning pods offer students that first, safe step back to campus," 13 Dec. 2020 In fact, paleontologists still puzzle over how this animal lived. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Exquisite Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth," 10 Dec. 2020 Figuring out why our brains interpret those two different inputs as similar has been hard to puzzle out. Sara Harrison, Wired, "A New Study About Color Tries to Decode ‘The Brain’s Pantone’," 24 Nov. 2020 But against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are now trying to puzzle out safe ways to celebrate. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Five Online Tools for Evaluating Covid-19 Risk Ahead of the Holidays," 18 Nov. 2020 You're expected to get together with a large group of family and friends, puzzle through cooking a turkey and stuffing, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and bet on the game. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, "Thanksgiving for just a few? Here's how to make a small, yet satisfying holiday meal," 10 Nov. 2020 Linebacker Eric Kendricks has been part of the Vikings' only two wins at Soldier Field — 2015 and 2017 — since the 2007 season, and Minnesota's persistent struggles in Chicago puzzle him ahead of Monday night's visit. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, "Mike Zimmer praises Vikings' improving offensive line after Dalvin Cook's big day," 9 Nov. 2020 Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are expected to deliver a chaotic mix of forecasting on election night, as partisans and hobbyists alike try to puzzle out the election's winners well before all the votes are counted. NBC News, "'Big responsibility': In 2020, even armchair election analysts see little room for error," 27 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Despite that urgency, the industry venture is seen as only one piece in a challenging puzzle, according to Wes Kim, senior officer in the antibiotic resistance project at Pew Trust Charitable Trusts. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharma’s ambitious new antibiotic venture hires a CEO to fix a ‘broken’ pipeline," 22 Feb. 2021 Changes in policy or police actions in Mexico also influence smugglers’ behaviors, another factor in an immigration puzzle that no presidential administration or law-enforcement agency has been able to solve. New York Times, "Risking Everything to Come to America on the Open Ocean," 28 Jan. 2021 The layers follow the puzzle-like curves, reinforcing the thinnest part of the joint—the neck-like bit where the two halves are interlocked. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Scientific Discoveries From 2020 that May Lead to New Inventions," 28 Dec. 2020 From Halloween puzzles, to Christmas brainteasers, and even Springtime ones, Dudás' seek-and-find puzzle books will satisfy your brainteaser itch day in and day out. Christy Piña, Woman's Day, "Can You Find the Bear in the Sea of Reindeer Swarming Santa Claus?," 19 Dec. 2020 Foldit is a puzzle-like game in which human players, without any knowledge of biology, compete to fold proteins, earning points for creating shapes that are plausible. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Know when to fold ’em: How a company best known for playing games used A.I. to solve one of biology’s greatest mysteries," 30 Nov. 2020 Among her other donations are gummy bears, puzzle books, gum, granola bars, hot sauce, hand sanitizer, shaving cream, body wash, cookies and lip balm. Gloria Casas, chicagotribune.com, "Carpentersville woman filling holiday stockings with small gifts for sailors at Great Lakes naval station," 20 Nov. 2020 The Frisco Non-Skid Slow Feeder Dog Bowl is perfect for those pups that get ahead of themselves while scarfing down meals: Its puzzle-like design is meant to lengthen mealtime thanks to ridges that break up the eating surface and minimize gulping. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "The 7 best deals you can get during Chewy's big summertime sales event," 22 June 2020 The difficulty of the print puzzles will vary; each puzzle’s solution will arrive in the following issue. Liz Maynes-aminzade, The New Yorker, "The New Yorker Crossword Will Now Appear in Every Print Issue of the Magazine," 8 Feb. 2021

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

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Puzzle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puzzle. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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