verb (used with object), con·fused, con·fus·ing.

to perplex or bewilder: The flood of questions confused me.
to make unclear or indistinct: The rumors and angry charges tended to confuse the issue.
to fail to distinguish between; associate by mistake; confound: to confuse dates; He always confuses the twins.
to disconcert or abash: His candor confused her.
to combine without order; jumble; disorder: Try not to confuse the papers on the desk.
Archaic. to bring to ruin or naught.

Origin of confuse

back formation from confused (since early 19th century), Middle English confused < Anglo-French confus (with -ed -ed2 maintaining participial sense) < Latin confūsus, past participle of confundere; see confound
Related formscon·fus·a·ble, adjectivecon·fus·a·bil·i·ty, nouncon·fus·a·bly, adverbcon·fus·ed·ly [kuhn-fyoo-zid-lee, -fyoozd-] /kənˈfyu zɪd li, -ˈfyuzd-/, adverbcon·fus·ed·ness, nounpre·con·fuse, verb (used with object), pre·con·fused, pre·con·fus·ing.pre·con·fus·ed·ly, adverbre·con·fuse, verb (used with object), re·con·fused, re·con·fus··per·con·fused, adjectiveun·con·fus·a·ble, adjectiveun·con·fus·a·bly, adverbun·con·fused, adjectiveun·con·fus·ed·ly, adverb

Synonyms for confuse

Synonym study

1. Confuse, disconcert, embarrass imply temporary interference with the clear working of one's mind. To confuse is to produce a general bewilderment: to confuse someone by giving complicated directions. To disconcert is to disturb one's mind by irritation, perplexities, etc.: to disconcert someone by asking irrelevant questions. To embarrass is to cause one to be ill at ease or uncomfortable, so that one's usual judgment and presence of mind desert one: to embarrass someone by unexpected rudeness. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for confused

Contemporary Examples of confused

Historical Examples of confused

  • He was almost surprised that he recognized it, everything was so confused.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Frederica looked so shy, so confused, when we entered the room, that I felt for her exceedingly.

    Lady Susan

    Jane Austen

  • After that Marian's thought was confused to the point of exasperation.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • It was only later on that Winnie obtained from him a misty and confused confession.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • But it was all so confused, I can recollect only some parts of it.

British Dictionary definitions for confused



feeling or exhibiting an inability to understand; bewildered; perplexed
in a disordered state; mixed up; jumbled
lacking sufficient mental abilities for independent living, esp through old age
Derived Formsconfusedly (kənˈfjuːzɪdlɪ, -ˈfjuːzd-), adverbconfusedness, noun


verb (tr)

to bewilder; perplex
to mix up (things, ideas, etc); jumble
to make unclearhe confused his talk with irrelevant details
to fail to recognize the difference between; mistake (one thing) for another
to disconcert; embarrass
to cause to become disorderedthe enemy ranks were confused by gas
Derived Formsconfusable, adjective, nounconfusability, noun

Word Origin for confuse

C18: back formation from confused, from Latin confūsus mingled together, from confundere to pour together; see confound
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

Word Origin and History for confused

early 14c., "discomfited, routed, defeated" (of groups), serving at first as an alternative past participle of confound, as Latin confusus was the past participle of confundere "to pour together, mix, mingle; to join together;" hence, figuratively, "to throw into disorder; to trouble, disturb, upset." The Latin past participle also was used as an adjective, with reference to mental states, "troubled, embarrassed," and this passed into Old French as confus "dejected, downcast, undone, defeated, discomfited in mind or feeling," which passed to Middle English as confus (14c.; e.g. Chaucer: "I am so confus, that I may not seye"), which then was assimilated to the English past participle pattern by addition of -ed. Of individuals, "discomfited in mind, perplexed," from mid-14c.; of ideas, speech, thought, etc., from 1610s. By mid-16c., the word seems to have been felt as a pure adj., and it evolved a back-formed verb in confuse. Few English etymologies are more confused.



1550s, in literal sense "mix or mingle things so as to render the elements indistinguishable;" attested from mid-18c. in active, figurative sense of "discomfit in mind or feeling;" not in general use until 19c., taking over senses formerly belonging to confound, dumbfound, flabbergast etc. The past participle confused (q.v.) is attested much earlier (serving as an alternative past tense to confound), and the verb here might be a back-formation from it. Related: Confusing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper