[ baf-uhl ]
/ ˈbæf əl /
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See synonyms for: baffle / baffled / baffling / bafflement on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), baf·fled, baf·fling.
verb (used without object), baf·fled, baf·fling.
to struggle ineffectually, as a ship in a gale.
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Origin of baffle

First recorded in1540–50; 1910–15 for def. 8; perhaps from Scots bauchle “to disgrace, treat with contempt,” equivalent to bauch (see baff) + -le

synonym study for baffle

1. See thwart.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does baffle mean?

Baffle means to confuse, bewilder, perplex, or confound.

The word usually implies that such confusion causes someone to come to standstill—that it stumps them or makes them completely bewildered.

You might be baffled by a difficult riddle or confusing instructions. People’s strange behavior might baffle you. The term is often used in the context of experts or scientists being baffled by some newly discovered thing or phenomenon—one they can’t figure out or comprehend.

Someone or something that baffles can be described as baffling.

As a verb, baffle can also mean to deflect or regulate the movement or flow of something, such as gas or light. The word can also be used as a noun referring to a component or part that does this.

Example: This door is completely baffling! I can never figure out how to get it unlocked. 

Where does baffle come from?

The first records of the word baffle come from around the 1540s. Its origin isn’t certain, but it may derive from the Scottish bauchle, meaning “to disgrace or treat with contempt.” It may also be related to the French verb bafouer, meaning “to disgrace.”

The first records of the word baffle as a noun referring to a component that regulates or stops the flow of something come from the early 1900s. Components called baffles are used in things like boilers and wood-burning stoves to regulate the flow of heat and gas. They’re also used in speaker systems to regulate sound and in darkrooms to control the amount of light.

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What are some other forms related to baffle?

  • baffling (adjective)
  • bafflingly (adverb)
  • bafflement (noun)
  • baffler (noun)

What are some synonyms for baffle?

What are some words that share a root or word element with baffle

What are some words that often get used in discussing baffle?


How is baffle used in real life?

Baffle is usually used in informal contexts involving extreme confusion or things that you just can’t understand.


Try using baffle!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of baffle

A. bewilder
B. befuddle
C. enlighten
D. puzzle

How to use baffle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for baffle

/ (ˈbæfəl) /

verb (tr)
to perplex; bewilder; puzzle
to frustrate (plans, efforts, etc)
to check, restrain, or regulate (the flow of a fluid or the emission of sound or light)
to provide with a baffle
obsolete to cheat or trick
Also called: baffle board, baffle plate a plate or mechanical device designed to restrain or regulate the flow of a fluid, the emission of light or sound, or the distribution of sound, esp in a loudspeaker or microphone

Derived forms of baffle

bafflement, nounbaffler, noun

Word Origin for baffle

C16: perhaps from Scottish dialect bachlen to condemn publicly; perhaps related to French bafouer to disgrace
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