Etymology: origin unknown
1. to offer or represent to (as a person) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve ; challenge mentally; also to exert (as oneself) over such a problem or situation <they puzzled their wits to find a solution> 2. archaic complicate, entangle 3. to solve with difficulty or ingenuity <puzzle out an answer to a riddle> intransitive verb 1. to be uncertain as to action or choice 2. to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment <puzzle over the mystery> • puzzler noun Synonyms: puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve <the persistent fever puzzled the doctor>. perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision <a behavior that perplexed her friends>. bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking <a bewildering number of possibilities>. distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests <distracted by personal problems>. nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible <the remark left us utterly nonplussed>. confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement <the tragic news confounded us all>. dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound <was at first too dumbfounded to reply>. II. noun Date: circa 1612 1. the state of being puzzled ; perplexity 2. a. something that puzzles b. a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity Synonyms: see mystery
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.