[puhz-uh l]
See more synonyms for puzzle on Thesaurus.com
  1. a toy, problem, or other contrivance designed to amuse by presenting difficulties to be solved by ingenuity or patient effort.
  2. something puzzling; a puzzling question, matter, or person.
  3. a puzzled or perplexed condition; bewilderment.
  4. a crossword puzzle: Did you do the puzzle in the newspaper today?
  5. a jigsaw puzzle.
verb (used with object), puz·zled, puz·zling.
  1. to put (someone) at a loss; mystify; confuse; baffle: Her attitude puzzles me.
  2. to frustrate or confound, as the understanding; perplex: The problem puzzled him for weeks.
  3. to exercise (oneself, one's brain, etc.) over some problem or matter.
  4. Archaic. to make intricate or complicated.
verb (used without object), puz·zled, puz·zling.
  1. to be perplexed or confused.
  2. to ponder or study over some perplexing problem or matter.
Verb Phrases
  1. puzzle out, to solve by careful study or effort: I was unable to puzzle out the message.

Origin of puzzle

First recorded in 1585–95; origin uncertain
Related formspuz·zled·ly, adverbpuz·zled·ness, nounun·puz·zle, verb (used with object), un·puz·zled, un·puz·zling.

Synonyms for puzzle

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2. Puzzle, riddle, enigma refer to something baffling or confusing that is to be solved. A puzzle is a question or problem, intricate enough to be perplexing to the mind; it is sometimes a contrivance made purposely perplexing to test one's ingenuity: a crossword puzzle; The reason for their behavior remains a puzzle. A riddle is an intentionally obscure statement or question, the meaning of or answer to which is to be arrived at only by guessing: the famous riddle of the Sphinx. Enigma, originally meaning riddle, now refers to some baffling problem with connotations of mysteriousness: He will always be an enigma to me. 6. confound.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for puzzled

Contemporary Examples of puzzled

Historical Examples of puzzled

  • They did not seem to interest him particularly, or else they puzzled him.

  • Gilder himself was puzzled over the situation, which was by no means clear to him.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • She was a trifle subdued, with a puzzled look in her blue eyes.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • She puzzled over Tillie a great deal, and over Grace and her kind.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • But Christine's eyes were on him often that evening, puzzled, rather sad.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for puzzled


  1. to perplex or be perplexed
  2. (intr foll by over) to attempt the solution (of); ponder (about)he puzzled over her absence
  3. (tr usually foll by out) to solve by mental efforthe puzzled out the meaning of the inscription
  1. a person or thing that puzzles
  2. a problem that cannot be easily or readily solved
  3. the state or condition of being puzzled
  4. a toy, game, or question presenting a problem that requires skill or ingenuity for its solutionSee jigsaw puzzle, Chinese puzzle
Derived Formspuzzling, adjective

Word Origin for puzzle

C16: of unknown origin
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 puzzled



1590s, pusle "bewilder, confound," possibly frequentative of pose (v.) in obsolete sense of "perplex" (cf. nuzzle from nose). Related: Puzzled; puzzling.



c.1600, "state of being puzzled," from puzzle (v.); meaning "perplexing question" is from 1650s; that of "a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity" is from 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper