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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
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 perplexingly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Papa was looking almost as perplexingly young as she, and I made up the little party to the number of the Graces.

    Willing to Die Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • That evidence, as it now lies before us, is perplexingly various both in content and quality.

  • This was all that I could observe of her in the dim light and under the perplexingly strange circumstances of our meeting.

    The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
  • Cecil rounded one of his perplexingly empty sentences and turned on his heel.

  • Authority is perplexingly subdivided and distributed, and responsibility has to be hunted down in out-of-the-way corners.

    Congressional Government Woodrow Wilson
  • Certainly, few people were ever more fortunately, or perplexingly placed, than I am just now.

    Gladys, the Reaper Anne Beale
  • Nearly all women are perplexingly interesting as human beings.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
  • Mr. Twist had often observed how perplexingly much there is to be said for the opposite sides of a question.

    Christopher and Columbus Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim
  • Left to himself, the thoughts of his dependent and equivocal situation rushed painfully and perplexingly into his mind.

British Dictionary definitions for perplexingly


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 perplexingly



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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