[ bih-myooz ]
See synonyms for: bemusebemusedbemusement on

verb (used with object),be·mused, be·mus·ing.
  1. to bewilder or confuse.

  2. to preoccupy; engross.

  1. to cause to be mildly amused, especially in a detached way: Apparently bemused by his critics, he floated above the clamor surrounding the campaign.

Origin of bemuse

First recorded in 1695–1705; be- + muse

confusables note For bemuse

The verb bemuse (usually as the adjective bemused ) is similar in sound to amuse , and has in fact taken on the meaning "to cause to be mildly amused." Many usage experts and traditionalists consider this a misuse of bemuse , pointing out that its proper meaning is “to bewilder or confuse.” However, the history and use of bemuse has shown that its meaning is often ambiguous. It's often the case that one's feelings are a combination of bewilderment and amusement: Their customs bemuse most Americans. Even when it clearly means "to bewilder or confuse," bemuse usually retains a lighthearted tone: one would not typically say: I was bemused by his motive for the murder.

Other words from bemuse

  • be·muse·ment, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for bemuse


/ (bɪˈmjuːz) /

  1. (tr) to confuse; bewilder

Derived forms of bemuse

  • bemusement, noun
  • bemusing, adjective

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