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[per-pleks] /pərˈplɛks/
verb (used with object)
to cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain; confuse mentally:
Her strange response perplexed me.
to make complicated or confused, as a matter or question.
to hamper with complications, confusion, or uncertainty.
Origin of perplex
1585-95; back formation from perplexed
Related forms
perplexer, noun
perplexingly, adverb
unperplexing, adjective
1. mystify, confound. 2. tangle, snarl. 3. vex, annoy, bother. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for perplexing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My own peculiar position was assuming most perplexing phases.

    In Hostile Red Joseph Altsheler
  • Of course, he was going, but the perplexing thing was, what to do with that other ticket.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • I recalled the perplexing fact that as we had driven into the town past the barrier, there had been no one on guard.

  • I own that the instance of that boy of Dalhem is perplexing.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • The planet grows harder and harder to live on, it is true; every new invention makes things more complicated and perplexing.

    Plum Pudding Christopher Morley
British Dictionary definitions for perplexing


verb (transitive)
to puzzle; bewilder; confuse
to complicate: to perplex an issue
Word Origin
C15: from obsolete perplex (adj) intricate, from Latin perplexus entangled, from per- (thoroughly) + plectere to entwine
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 perplexing



late 14c. as an adjective, "perplexed, puzzled, bewildered," from Latin perplexus "involved, confused, intricate;" but Latin had no corresponding verb *perplectere. The Latin compound would be per "through" (see per) + plexus "entangled," past participle of plectere "to twine, braid, fold" (see complex (adj.)).

The form of the English adjective shifted to perplexed by late 15c., probably to conform to other past participle adjectives. The verb is latest attested of the group, in 1590s, evidently a back-formation from the adjective. Related: Perplexing, which well describes the history of the word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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