Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To baffle or confuse mentally by presenting or being a difficult problem or matter.
  • transitive v. To clarify or solve (something confusing) by reasoning or study: He puzzled out the significance of the statement.
  • intransitive v. To be perplexed.
  • intransitive v. To ponder over a problem in an effort to solve or understand it.
  • n. Something, such as a game, toy, or problem, that requires ingenuity and often persistence in solving or assembling.
  • n. Something that baffles or confuses.
  • n. The condition of being perplexed; bewilderment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Anything that is difficult to understand or make sense of.
  • n. A game for one person that is more or less difficult to work out or complete.
  • n. A crossword puzzle.
  • n. A jigsaw puzzle.
  • n. A riddle.
  • v. To perplex (someone).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Something which perplexes or embarrasses; especially, a toy or a problem contrived for testing ingenuity; also, something exhibiting marvelous skill in making.
  • n. The state of being puzzled; perplexity.
  • transitive v. To perplex; to confuse; to embarrass; to put to a stand; to nonplus.
  • transitive v. To make intricate; to entangle.
  • transitive v. To solve by ingenuity, as a puzzle; -- followed by out.
  • intransitive v. To be bewildered, or perplexed.
  • intransitive v. To work, as at a puzzle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A difficult question or problem; specifically, a riddle, or a toy or contrivance which is designed to try one's ingenuity.
  • n. Embarrassment; perplexity: as, to be in a puzzle, or in a state of puzzle.
  • To perplex or pose with or as with difficult points, problems, or questions; put to a stand; gravel.
  • To entangle; make intricate.
  • To resolve or discover by long cogitation or careful investigation; make out by mental labor; cogitate: with out.
  • Synonyms Perplex, etc. (see embarrass), pose, nonplus, bewilder, stagger.
  • To be bewildered; be perplexed or posed.

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

  • v. be a mystery or bewildering to
  • n. a game that tests your ingenuity
  • n. a particularly baffling problem that is said to have a correct solution
  • v. be uncertain about; think about without fully understanding or being able to decide

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Origin uncertain, originally pusle, possibly pose (“to perplex”) +‎ -le (“(frequentive, diminutive)”). The verb (1590s) “to perplex” seems to predate the noun “state of being perplexed” (circa 1600), “perplexing question” (1650s), “toy” (1814). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But it ` s just -- it ` s a normal investigative process, you know, and it ` s odd that the term puzzle was used, because essentially that ` s what an investigation is.

    CNN Transcript Jul 29, 2008

  • Many assignments in the professional world are a word puzzle in need of a visual solution and it's up to the photographer to make lemonade from lemons.

    Wired Top Stories

  • A big piece of the puzzle is the Web Application Accelerator, which Akamai has enhanced specifically for SaaS customers.

    OpSource, Akamai Unite to Score a Slice of $56B Cloud Market Pie

  • I fancy foxes and liked the picture on its own; the puzzle is a bonus.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • In one experiment, Mogilner stood outside a coffee shop and asked people as they were about to enter the store to complete a word puzzle.

    Time Vs. Money: Which Rules Buying Decisions?

  • The stumbling-out-the-gate budget fumble by Chris Gregoire's staff highlights a bigger problem for the state budget that will pose a significant stumbling block for lawmakers: a large piece of the puzzle is the under funded state pension system which requires sizeable "catch-up" contributions from the state in coming years.

    Sound Politics: The Real State Budget Problem

  • And now the final piece of the puzzle is apparently ready to be slipped into place – according to reports, Tom Cruise is ready to release a picture of Suri Cruise to the public.

    Suri Cruise Goes To Will Smith’s Party

  • La Russa says an important piece to the puzzle is the fact the A's had somebody good enough to get the outs in the seventh and eighth innings.

    USATODAY.com - A's Eckersley defined today's role of closer

  • (Sorry, Miami Herald - you have too many ads and the crossword puzzle is the same as the Times except a week later.)

    January 2004

  • The second piece in the puzzle is the weak force, which controls some radioactive decays and energy production in the sun.

    The Nobel Prize in Physics 2004

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.