bam·​boo·​zle | \ bam-ˈbü-zəl How to pronounce bamboozle (audio) \
bamboozled; bamboozling\ bam-​ˈbüz-​liŋ How to pronounce bamboozle (audio) , -​ˈbü-​zə-​ \

Definition of bamboozle

transitive verb

1 : to deceive by underhanded methods : dupe, hoodwink I got bamboozled by the salesperson to buy a more expensive model.
2 : to confuse, frustrate, or throw off thoroughly or completely a quarterback bamboozled by an unexpected defense

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Other Words from bamboozle

bamboozlement \ bam-​ˈbü-​zəl-​mənt How to pronounce bamboozle (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

In 1710, Irish author Jonathan Swift wrote an article on "the continual Corruption of our English Tongue" in which he complained of "the Choice of certain Words invented by some pretty Fellows." Among the inventions Swift disliked were bamboozle, bubble (a dupe), put (a fool), and sham. (Perhaps he objected to the use of sham as a verb; he himself had used the adjective meaning "false" a couple of years previously.) What all these words appear to have in common is a connection to the underworld as jargon of criminals. Other than that, the origin of bamboozle remains a mystery, but the over-300-year-old word has clearly defied Swift's assertion that "All new affected Modes of Speech . . . are the first perishing Parts in any Language."

Examples of bamboozle in a Sentence

bamboozled by con men into buying worthless land in the desert she's completely bamboozled by the latest changes in the tax code
Recent Examples on the Web The point is not to confuse or bamboozle people, but to eventually find a way to think that makes more sense and is a little less murky. Stephon Alexander, Wired, 31 Aug. 2021 The deal represents an intersection of Europeans’ longstanding dream to tax American tech companies and the Biden Administration’s attempt to bamboozle lawmakers into passing a competition-killing corporate-tax hike at home. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 8 July 2021 After a 11-year break, the former TNT series returns with our gang of do-gooders, which include Minnesotan Beth Riesgraf, continuing to bamboozle the kind of evil elite who used to get upended by Lt. Columbo. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, 7 July 2021 Early studies suggest that new coronavirus variants that bamboozle certain antibodies are still nowhere near stumping the body’s diverse cavalry of T cells. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 21 May 2021 Wohl and Burkman have a history of trying to bamboozle opponents with wild and unsubstantiated claims. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, 14 Sep. 2020 Information warfare is designed to bamboozle, but its digital variant can be especially baffling to the nonspecialist. Jonathan Freedland, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2020 Their opaque methodologies bamboozle clients and bosses. The Economist, 18 June 2020 But Trump has only one act—juggling lies after lies to bamboozle the credulous—and, at the worst moment of his presidency, his usual tricks and distractions are suddenly not working. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 16 Apr. 2020

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

1703, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bamboozle

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for bamboozle

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The first known use of bamboozle was in 1703

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Dictionary Entries Near bamboozle

bamboo worm



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Last Updated

7 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bamboozle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of bamboozle

: to trick or confuse (someone)

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Nglish: Translation of bamboozle for Spanish Speakers


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