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perplex

[per-pleks]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain; confuse mentally: Her strange response perplexed me.
  2. to make complicated or confused, as a matter or question.
  3. to hamper with complications, confusion, or uncertainty.
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Origin of perplex

First recorded in 1585–95; back formation from perplexed
Related formsper·plex·er, nounper·plex·ing·ly, adverbun·per·plex·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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1. mystify, confound. 2. tangle, snarl. 3. vex, annoy, bother.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perplex

Historical Examples

  • He was a poet without knowing it, and his gifts only served to perplex him further.

    Bunyan

    James Anthony Froude

  • If I have my private doubts, why should I set them up to perplex the community withal?

  • It was not so difficult as to perplex them, and yet it required attention and care.

    The Teacher

    Jacob Abbott

  • The idea of his teacher's trying to perplex and embarrass him, was entirely new.

    The Teacher

    Jacob Abbott

  • "I don't want to perplex you, but I have done something," said Nick, getting up.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James


British Dictionary definitions for perplex

perplex

verb (tr)
  1. to puzzle; bewilder; confuse
  2. to complicateto perplex an issue
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Word Origin

C15: from obsolete perplex (adj) intricate, from Latin perplexus entangled, from per- (thoroughly) + plectere to entwine
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 perplex

v.

late 14c. as an adjective, "perplexed, puzzled, bewildered," from Latin perplexus "involved, confused, intricate;" but Latin had no corresponding verb *perplectere. The Latin compound would be per "through" (see per) + plexus "entangled," past participle of plectere "to twine, braid, fold" (see complex (adj.)).

The form of the English adjective shifted to perplexed by late 15c., probably to conform to other past participle adjectives. The verb is latest attested of the group, in 1590s, evidently a back-formation from the adjective. Related: Perplexing, which well describes the history of the word.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper