bewildered; puzzled: a perplexed state of mind.
complicated; involved; entangled.

Origin of perplexed

1350–1400; Middle English perplex confused (< Latin perplexus; see per-, complex) + -ed2
Related formsper·plex·ed·ly [per-plek-sid-lee] /pərˈplɛk sɪd li/, adverbper·plex·ed·ness, nounself-per·plexed, adjectiveun·per·plexed, adjective



verb (used with object)

to cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain; confuse mentally: Her strange response perplexed me.
to make complicated or confused, as a matter or question.
to hamper with complications, confusion, or uncertainty.

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 for perplex Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for perplexed

Contemporary Examples of perplexed

Historical Examples of perplexed

  • He felt committed for labor; glad was he, very, yet perplexed.

  • Light of some sort began to dawn on the perplexed faces of the gentlemen.

  • "But there wasn't any shot," the perplexed and alarmed detective expostulated.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Presently he came down again, his face looking drawn and perplexed.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Mr. Blackwell, abashed and perplexed, returned to his companion.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for perplexed


verb (tr)

to puzzle; bewilder; confuse
to complicateto perplex an issue

Word Origin for perplex

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 perplexed

late 15c., past participle adjective; see perplex. A case of a past participle form attested centuries before the verb (perplex isn't recorded until 17c.). Related: Perplexedly; perplexedness.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper