Definition of puzzle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpəzəl/


[with object]
1Cause (someone) to feel confused because they cannot understand or make sense of something: one remark he made puzzled me
More example sentences
  • I was puzzled that my doctor saw this as a cause for celebration but they are a breed apart.
  • I can understand why you are puzzled, and certainly there is a somewhat surprising explanation for this.
  • We were puzzled by your remark that you had the standard and there is no other design, so we did a little detective work.
perplex, confuse, bewilder, bemuse, baffle, mystify, confound
informal flummox, faze, stump, beat, discombobulate
perplexed, confused, bewildered, bemused, baffled, mystified, confounded, nonplussed, at a loss, at sea
informal flummoxed, stumped, fazed, clueless, discombobulated
baffling, perplexing, bewildering, confusing, complicated, unclear, mysterious, enigmatic, ambiguous, obscure, abstruse, unfathomable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, cryptic
1.1 [no object] Think hard about something difficult to understand or explain: she was still puzzling over this problem when she reached the office
More example sentences
  • Yet they maintain just enough ambiguity so that the audience is left still puzzling over the piece afterwards.
  • So next time you are puzzling over a piece of art, take more note of its context.
  • I'm still puzzling over the film almost a week after seeing it and have no precedent as to whether this means I'll like it or not.
think hard about, mull over, muse over, ponder, contemplate, meditate on, consider, deliberate on, chew over, wonder about
1.2 (puzzle something out) Solve or understand something by thinking hard.
Example sentences
  • I present it for folks who are better at puzzling their way out of things.
  • And there's something I need to work on about forgiveness, to myself and others, but I haven't puzzled it out quite yet.
  • It'll irritate me, this will, until I've puzzled it out.
work out, understand, comprehend, sort out, reason out, solve, make sense of, make head(s) or tail(s) of, unravel, decipher
informal figure out


1A game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge.
Example sentences
  • Basically, it would be the equivalent of solving a puzzle in a video game.
  • A good puzzle game tests logic, reflexes and wit in the act of problem solving.
  • They will play games, solve puzzles, and ask questions like: Why can I remember baseball scores but forget where I put my keys?
1.1 short for jigsaw puzzle (see jigsaw).
Example sentences
  • If it does, it might be one of the pieces of the jigsaw to these puzzles.
  • We all blinked as that piece of the puzzle fell into place, and said a perfectly chorused, ‘Hello.’
  • I guessed as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
1.2 [usually in singular] A person or thing that is difficult to understand or explain; an enigma: the meaning of the poem has always been a puzzle
More example sentences
  • Your intellect and intelligence may have others constantly asking for your help with things that take a lot of thought or are difficult puzzles.
  • Only the feel bad factor explains puzzles about the fuel protests.
  • We can make these puzzles so difficult that it would take a champion six hours to complete one.
enigma, mystery, paradox, conundrum, poser, riddle, problem, quandary
informal stumper


Late 16th century (as a verb): of unknown origin.

  • The word puzzle is a puzzle. Some have suggested that it is derived from pose ( see pause), just as nuzzle came from nose. Although pose did at one time mean ‘to perplex someone or put them at a loss’, the evidence for a connection between the two words is not strong and it is likely that they arose independently.

Words that rhyme with puzzle

guzzle, muzzle, nuzzle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: puz·zle

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