- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for perplexing
The New York Times called the explanations “perplexing” and insufficient.White House Has No International Legal Justification for Hitting ISIS in Syria
September 23, 2014
Now the high court has reversed course, offering a perplexing dilemma and a challenge to the Vatican.Italian Transgender Ruling Gives Green Light to Civil Unions
Barbie Latza Nadeau
June 16, 2014
Given this perplexing picture, what, if anything, looks like a firm fact?Why Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Must Have Died Instantaneously
March 11, 2014
Once again, we are approaching that most solemn and perplexing American social ritual—the Super Bowl party.Your Super Bowl Etiquette Guide From Food to Clothes to What Not to Say
Kelly Williams Brown
February 1, 2014
Narcocorrido, from across the border, is judged outlandish and perplexing.Are Narcocorrido Mexican Drug Ballads Really That Bad?
November 24, 2013
He seemed as if he had got something upon his mind which was perplexing him.Life in London
Of course, he was going, but the perplexing thing was, what to do with that other ticket.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
Oh, what a torturing, doubt-raising, perplexing thing this Love was!The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing; still we must push on.The Republic
The latest pronouncement, however, was for the moment the most perplexing.Lotus Buds
- to puzzle; bewilder; confuse
- to complicateto perplex an issue
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.