from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Filled with confusion or bewilderment; puzzled.
  • adj. Full of complications or difficulty; involved.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Confused or puzzled.
  • adj. Bewildered.
  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of perplex.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Entangled, involved, or confused; hence, embarrassd; puzzled; doubtful; anxious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. full of difficulty or confusion or bewilderment


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from perplex, confused, from Old French perplexe, from Latin perplexus : per-, per- + plexus, past participle of plectere, to entwine; see plek- in Indo-European roots.



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  • An interesting point. The OED notes that Latin had no verb *perplectere, only the adjective perplex-us, which looks like it's the past participle of such a verb, but might instead have come from per- "thoroughly" + the past participle plex-us of plect-ere "plait, interweave, entangle".

    The English adjective was originally 'perplex', with the other words (verb and 'perplexed') derived from it.

    August 29, 2008

  • After reading the conversation on rumoured, I just thought this one might interest you as well.

    A similar reflection might be done about perplexed, I guess, at least in Italian.

    Some (rather knowledgeable) people try to use the verb perplimere (something like to perplime) as the infinitive of perplexed.

    The Accademia della Crusca states that it doesn't exist (it was made up for a comical TV show in the 90's), but as a back-formation it's very interesting indeed.

    Is perplex a back-formation as well?

    August 29, 2008