confusing or baffling: a puzzling answer.


the skill or pastime of constructing or working crossword or other puzzles.

Nearby words

  1. puzzle out,
  2. puzzled,
  3. puzzleheaded,
  4. puzzlement,
  5. puzzler,
  6. puzzlingly,
  7. puzzolan,
  8. puzzolana,
  9. pva,
  10. pvc

Origin of puzzling

First recorded in 1590–1600; puzzle + -ing2

Related formspuz·zling·ly, adverb


[puhz-uh l]


a toy, problem, or other contrivance designed to amuse by presenting difficulties to be solved by ingenuity or patient effort.
something puzzling; a puzzling question, matter, or person.
a puzzled or perplexed condition; bewilderment.
a crossword puzzle: Did you do the puzzle in the newspaper today?

verb (used with object), puz·zled, puz·zling.

to put (someone) at a loss; mystify; confuse; baffle: Her attitude puzzles me.
to frustrate or confound, as the understanding; perplex: The problem puzzled him for weeks.
to exercise (oneself, one's brain, etc.) over some problem or matter.
Archaic. to make intricate or complicated.

verb (used without object), puz·zled, puz·zling.

to be perplexed or confused.
to ponder or study over some perplexing problem or matter.

Verb Phrases

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

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.

Related formspuz·zled·ly, adverbpuz·zled·ness, nounun·puz·zle, verb (used with object), un·puz·zled, un·puz·zling.

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

Examples from the Web for puzzling

British Dictionary definitions for puzzling



to perplex or be perplexed
(intr foll by over) to attempt the solution (of); ponder (about)he puzzled over her absence
(tr usually foll by out) to solve by mental efforthe puzzled out the meaning of the inscription


a person or thing that puzzles
a problem that cannot be easily or readily solved
the state or condition of being puzzled
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 puzzling
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper