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2017 Word of the Year

puzzling

[puhz-ling] /ˈpʌz lɪŋ/
adjective
1.
confusing or baffling:
a puzzling answer.
noun
2.
the skill or pastime of constructing or working crossword or other puzzles.
Origin of puzzling
1590-1600
First recorded in 1590-1600; puzzle + -ing2
Related forms
puzzlingly, adverb

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
First recorded in 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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for puzzling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When we had satisfied ourselves that he was alone, we took pleasure in puzzling him.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • This was a puzzling thing, but the excavators studied it out at last.

  • He remained reserved, retiring, inconspicuous, and puzzling to our understanding.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • Sometimes I have thought, sir, when puzzling over it, that he may be screening another.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • She saw her way out of the difficulty that had been puzzling her.

    The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys Gulielma Zollinger
British Dictionary definitions for puzzling

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 puzzling
adj.

"bewildering," 1660s, present participle adjective from puzzle (v.). Related: Puzzlingly.

puzzle

v.

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

puzzle

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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