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

New construction applications have declined, however, as apartment builders puzzle through a new city of Portland mandate to include affordable units in new residential development. Elliot Njus, oregonlive, "Portland-area rents are growing faster," 30 Aug. 2019 The four-time Premier League winner left the audience puzzled with his acceptance speech after receiving the President's Award in Monaco from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. Ben Morse, CNN, "'As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods': Eric Cantona speech leaves audience baffled," 30 Aug. 2019 What made both opening sets so puzzling was how poorly Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion, played in them. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Roger Federer and Venus Williams: A Day of Ups and Downs for 2 Tennis Giants," 28 Aug. 2019 Further Reading Vaping linked to 94 mysterious cases of severe lung disease in 14 states On Saturday, August 17, the CDC announced its investigation into the cases, which have puzzled health officials. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Vaping-linked lung disease cases jump from 94 to 153 in 5 days, CDC says [Updated]," 23 Aug. 2019 To get on Minnesota’s presidential ballot next year, a Libertarian Party candidate must secure a puzzling promise from 2,000 people. Josh Verges, Twin Cities, "MN Libertarians sue to get ‘downright silly’ nomination oath declared unconstitutional," 21 Aug. 2019 The previous editor, Eugene Maleska, famously hated contemporary pop culture, and puzzles under his watch habitually relied on obscure terms from zoology and botany. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Upstart Crossword Puzzle Builders Get Their Point Across (and Down)," 19 Aug. 2019 On this day last year, investors thought shares could soar to $420 or more, based on a puzzling tweet from CEO Elon Musk. Jason Karaian, Quartz, "A year ago today, Elon Musk sent a very expensive tweet," 7 Aug. 2019 Some of her favorite activities included reading, puzzling, dancing, beaching on Cape Cod, and especially wintering in FL to visit family. courant.com, "Viola D. Gallant," 30 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His performances are puzzle boxes, perfectly timed for the big reveal. Cody Delistraty, The New Republic, "Why Is the One Percent So Obsessed With Magic?," 26 Aug. 2019 To help solve this puzzle, with Louis’ encouragement, Boylan consulted two neurosurgeons. David Armstrong, ProPublica, "In Men, It’s Parkinson’s. In Women, It’s Hysteria.," 23 Aug. 2019 The good news is that this team has a lot more of the puzzle available. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: How the Colts will replace Jabaal Sheard if veteran DE has to miss the opener," 22 Aug. 2019 Little Nightmares 2 Little Nightmares is probably my favorite of the Limbo clones, wrapping the same puzzle-light, run-to-the-right mechanics in a surreal world that reminded me a lot of the Ghibli film Spirited Away. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "The 18 biggest game reveals from Gamescom's first-ever keynote—including Kerbal Space Program 2," 19 Aug. 2019 The Howarth study adds another piece to the extremely complicated methane puzzle, Worden said in an email, declining to elaborate. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere," 15 Aug. 2019 While K-pop artists have made major strides on the U.S. industry in key areas like album sales and touring, landing on radio tends to be the final piece of the puzzle still missing. Jeff Benjamin, Billboard, "Monsta X Becomes Second-Ever K-Pop Group to Enter Pop Songs Airplay Chart," 14 Aug. 2019 The possibilities are truly endless with this puzzle. Maddie Hiatt, House Beautiful, "You've Got to See This Dog Puzzle in Action," 2 Aug. 2019 There are so many variables in this financial puzzle that will come together over years, not months — expected increases in ticket sales and donations, to name a couple. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "Mike Anthony: Pulling some questions on UConn, the Big East and more from my overflowing email inbox," 21 July 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

12 Sep 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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