[kuh n-fyoo-zing]
See more synonyms for confusing on

Origin of confusing

First recorded in 1840–50; confuse + -ing2
Related formscon·fus·ing·ly, adverbcon·fus·ing·ness, nounun·con·fus·ing, adjective


verb (used with object), con·fused, con·fus·ing.
  1. to perplex or bewilder: The flood of questions confused me.
  2. to make unclear or indistinct: The rumors and angry charges tended to confuse the issue.
  3. to fail to distinguish between; associate by mistake; confound: to confuse dates; He always confuses the twins.
  4. to disconcert or abash: His candor confused her.
  5. to combine without order; jumble; disorder: Try not to confuse the papers on the desk.
  6. 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

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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. 2018

Examples from the Web for confusing

Contemporary Examples of confusing

Historical Examples of confusing

  • Some sweet, confusing influence, he knew not what, passed into his blood.

  • The reader should take note of this term and refrain from confusing it with the sails.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats

    Raymond Francis Yates

  • She had often been on errands alone in the great city, where everything was so confusing.

  • The din is so confusing, and your aunt is quite right—one ought to make a list.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • He may be described as confusing the attraction of gravitation with the attraction of cohesion.



British Dictionary definitions for confusing


  1. causing bewilderment; difficult to follow; puzzling
Derived Formsconfusingly, adverb


verb (tr)
  1. to bewilder; perplex
  2. to mix up (things, ideas, etc); jumble
  3. to make unclearhe confused his talk with irrelevant details
  4. to fail to recognize the difference between; mistake (one thing) for another
  5. to disconcert; embarrass
  6. 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 confusing



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