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[baf-uh l] /ˈbæf əl/
verb (used with object), baffled, baffling.
to confuse, bewilder, or perplex:
He was baffled by the technical language of the instructions.
to frustrate or confound; thwart by creating confusion or bewilderment.
to check or deflect the movement of (sound, light, fluids, etc.).
to equip with a baffle or baffles.
Obsolete. to cheat; trick.
verb (used without object), baffled, baffling.
to struggle ineffectually, as a ship in a gale.
something that balks, checks, or deflects.
an artificial obstruction for checking or deflecting the flow of gases (as in a boiler), sounds (as in the loudspeaker system of a radio or hi-fi set), light (as in a darkroom), etc.
any boxlike enclosure or flat panel for mounting a loudspeaker.
Origin of baffle
1540-50; 1910-15 for def 8; perhaps < Scots bauchle to disgrace, treat with contempt, equivalent to bauch (see baff) + -le
Related forms
bafflement, noun
baffler, noun
baffling, adjective
bafflingly, adverb
bafflingness, noun
unbaffled, adjective
unbaffling, adjective
unbafflingly, adverb
1. See thwart. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for baffle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The lower end of the shell is provided with a baffle plate O, which tends to keep the oil away from the mica.

    Aviation Engines Victor Wilfred Pag
  • I have baffled them now for nearly a year, and I can baffle them still.

    The Hunted Outlaw Anonymous
  • It was Carmena, every nerve of her loyal nature on the alert to baffle this pursuer of Alessandro and Ramona.

    Ramona Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Now I like to baffle them—to leave them something to struggle with.

  • The ups and downs of business distracted him but did not baffle him.

British Dictionary definitions for baffle


verb (transitive)
to perplex; bewilder; puzzle
to frustrate (plans, efforts, etc)
to check, restrain, or regulate (the flow of a fluid or the emission of sound or light)
to provide with a baffle
(obsolete) to cheat or trick
Also called baffle board, baffle plate. a plate or mechanical device designed to restrain or regulate the flow of a fluid, the emission of light or sound, or the distribution of sound, esp in a loudspeaker or microphone
Derived Forms
bafflement, noun
baffler, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Scottish dialect bachlen to condemn publicly; perhaps related to French bafouer to disgrace
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for baffle

1540s, "to disgrace," perhaps a Scottish respelling of bauchle "to disgrace publicly" (especially a perjured knight), which is probably related to French bafouer "to abuse, hoodwink" (16c.), possibly from baf, a natural sound of disgust, like bah (cf. German baff machen "to flabbergast"). Meaning "to bewilder, confuse" is from 1640s; that of "to defeat someone's efforts" is from 1670s. Related: Baffled; baffling.


"shielding device," 1881, from baffle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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