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[per-plekst] /pərˈplɛkst/
bewildered; puzzled:
a perplexed state of mind.
complicated; involved; entangled.
Origin of perplexed
1350-1400; Middle English perplex confused (< Latin perplexus; see per-, complex) + -ed2
Related forms
[per-plek-sid-lee] /pərˈplɛk sɪd li/ (Show IPA),
perplexedness, noun
self-perplexed, adjective
unperplexed, adjective


[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.
First recorded in 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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for perplexed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He felt committed for labor; glad was he, very, yet perplexed.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • Light of some sort began to dawn on the perplexed faces of the gentlemen.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • "But there wasn't any shot," the perplexed and alarmed detective expostulated.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Presently he came down again, his face looking drawn and perplexed.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Mr. Blackwell, abashed and perplexed, returned to his companion.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for perplexed


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 perplexed

late 15c., past participle adjective; see perplex. A case of a past participle form attested centuries before the verb (perplex isn't recorded until 17c.). Related: Perplexedly; perplexedness.



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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