Definition of puzzle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpʌz(ə)l/


[with object]
1Cause (someone) to feel confused because they cannot understand something: she was puzzled by the doctor’s manner
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, nonplus, throw, set someone thinking
informal flummox, discombobulate, faze, stump, beat, make someone scratch their head, fog
archaic wilder, gravel, maze, pose
rare obfuscate
perplexed, confused, bewildered, bemused, baffled, mystified, confounded, nonplussed, at a loss, at sea
informal flummoxed, discombobulated, stumped, fazed, clueless, without a clue
Canadian & Australian/New Zealand informal bushed
archaic wildered, gravelled, mazed
1.1 [no object] Think hard about something because one cannot understand it: 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, give much thought to, rack one's brains about, mull over, muse over, ponder, brood about, contemplate, meditate on, consider, reflect on, deliberate on, chew over, turn over in one's mind, cogitate on, wonder about, ask oneself about
archaic pore on
1.2 (puzzle something out) Solve or understand something by thinking hard: she was trying to puzzle out who the speakers were
More 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, think out, think through, sort out, reason out, solve, make sense of, get to the bottom of, make head or tail of, unravel, untangle, decipher, decode, find the key to, piece together
informal figure out, suss out, crack


1A game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge: those who solve this puzzle in the shortest time are eligible for awards a book with picture puzzles
More 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?
1.1A jigsaw puzzle: figurative so the pieces of the puzzle fall into place
More 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.
2A 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, question, question mark, problem
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

Line breaks: puz¦zle

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