What word or phrase does your mother always say?


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for perplexing
  • It's also perplexing why features acquired for life in water so many millions of years ago should have been retained, he added.
  • Another perplexing question is what selective pressures led long-necked stegosaurs to evolve.
  • And perhaps it's even more perplexing that the recipient of all this largesse somehow managed to piddle it all away.
  • However, files are categorized by an obscure terminology that can make choosing one perplexing.
  • The idea is pleasing, but the implications are perplexing.
  • These perplexing findings do not mean that people should stop taking their cholesterol drugs.
  • Initially, the vehicles' performance was perplexing.
  • Although it is kind of perplexing how such iconography came about.
  • Dark energy has now been added to the already perplexing question of dark matter.
  • Incentives explain much that is perplexing about security trade-offs.
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for perplex

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for perplexing

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with perplexing

Nearby words for perplexing