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puzzle

[puhz-uh l] /ˈpʌz əl/
noun
1.
a toy, problem, or other contrivance designed to amuse by presenting difficulties to be solved by ingenuity or patient effort.
2.
something puzzling; a puzzling question, matter, or person.
3.
a puzzled or perplexed condition; bewilderment.
4.
a crossword puzzle:
Did you do the puzzle in the newspaper today?
verb (used with object), puzzled, puzzling.
6.
to put (someone) at a loss; mystify; confuse; baffle:
Her attitude puzzles me.
7.
to frustrate or confound, as the understanding; perplex:
The problem puzzled him for weeks.
8.
to exercise (oneself, one's brain, etc.) over some problem or matter.
9.
Archaic. to make intricate or complicated.
verb (used without object), puzzled, puzzling.
10.
to be perplexed or confused.
11.
to ponder or study over some perplexing problem or matter.
Verb phrases
12.
puzzle out, to solve by careful study or effort:
I was unable to puzzle out the message.
Origin
1585-1595
1585-95; origin uncertain
Related forms
puzzledly, adverb
puzzledness, noun
unpuzzle, verb (used with object), unpuzzled, unpuzzling.
Synonyms
2. Puzzle, riddle, enigma refer to something baffling or confusing that is to be solved. A puzzle is a question or problem, intricate enough to be perplexing to the mind; it is sometimes a contrivance made purposely perplexing to test one's ingenuity: a crossword puzzle; The reason for their behavior remains a puzzle. A riddle is an intentionally obscure statement or question, the meaning of or answer to which is to be arrived at only by guessing: the famous riddle of the Sphinx. Enigma, originally meaning riddle, now refers to some baffling problem with connotations of mysteriousness: He will always be an enigma to me. 6. confound.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for puzzled
  • How their tiny specialized hairs do it has puzzled researchers for decades, but one team of scientists may have found a break.
  • The crosses, zigzags, and spirals woven by some spiders have long puzzled web watchers.
  • For years, elephants puzzled observers with this type of behavior.
  • But scientists have been puzzled to find that neighboring plants not being eaten by the insects send out similar calls for help.
  • The rational mind venturing there finds itself puzzled and inefficient in negotiating its environment.
  • For years, the energy world has puzzled over how to harness the sun to make rooms cool.
  • The law students, accustomed to articulate speakers with clearly defined agendas, puzzled over his all-over-the-map approach.
  • Indeed, paleontologists have long puzzled over how turtles acquired their odd traits and who their closest relatives are.
  • For decades, scientists were puzzled by this phenomenon.
  • But it's actually a question that has puzzled scientists.
British Dictionary definitions for puzzled

puzzle

/ˈpʌzəl/
verb
1.
to perplex or be perplexed
2.
(intransitive) foll by over. to attempt the solution (of); ponder (about) he puzzled over her absence
3.
(transitive) usually foll by out. to solve by mental effort he puzzled out the meaning of the inscription
noun
4.
a person or thing that puzzles
5.
a problem that cannot be easily or readily solved
6.
the state or condition of being puzzled
7.
a toy, game, or question presenting a problem that requires skill or ingenuity for its solution See jigsaw puzzle, Chinese puzzle
Derived Forms
puzzling, adjective
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
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 puzzled

puzzle

v.

1590s, pusle "bewilder, confound," possibly frequentative of pose (v.) in obsolete sense of "perplex" (cf. nuzzle from nose). Related: Puzzled; puzzling.

n.

c.1600, "state of being puzzled," from puzzle (v.); meaning "perplexing question" is from 1650s; that of "a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity" is from 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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