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.


  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

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

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