Definition of confusion in English:



mass noun
  • 1Uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required.

    ‘there seems to be some confusion about which system does what’
    ‘he cleared up the confusion over the party's policy’
    • ‘The uncertainty symbolises the current confusion over the role of the arts, the group declare.’
    • ‘It is disturbing that there appears to be so much uncertainty and confusion about rights today.’
    • ‘Much of the information came from the flood of news agency reports, reflecting the general sense of chaos and confusion over what was happening.’
    • ‘While that was happening jobs were protected, but there was confusion over which jobs would be temporary and which permanent.’
    • ‘It's due to start at the beginning of the season but there's confusion over what leagues and competitions it will apply to.’
    • ‘There's actually some confusion about whether the film was ever intended to be released in theaters.’
    • ‘There is much confusion over what actually happened on their game-winning drive.’
    • ‘However, there is uncertainty and confusion about the nature and purpose of global education.’
    • ‘But joy was often mixed up with confusion about what really happened.’
    • ‘This reflects a moral uncertainty and confusion about the war more than it does the reality of danger on the ground.’
    • ‘These dynamic changes sometimes occur mid-sentence, but there is never any confusion about the identities depicted.’
    • ‘There is a lot of confusion over what the law requires.’
    • ‘Indecision and confusion about where funds were to come from and problems securing necessary materials also affected construction.’
    • ‘For the moment, expect confusion about what's legal and what isn't in bars and clubs to continue unabated.’
    • ‘There was still confusion about exactly how he was hurt and uncertainty about whether he had passed out as a result of his fall or because the ball hit his head.’
    • ‘There will also be psychological confusion about such happenings.’
    • ‘Newspapers only added to the inaccuracies and confusion about what really happened.’
    • ‘The theft happened on Tuesday afternoon but last night there was confusion about what was in the documents.’
    • ‘Immediately any confusion over identity would have been solved.’
    • ‘There seems to be some confusion about what one should be doing at the moment.’
    uncertainty, lack of certainty, unsureness, indecision, hesitation, hesitancy, scepticism, doubt, ignorance
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    1. 1.1 A situation of panic or disorder.
      ‘the guaranteed income bond market was thrown into confusion’
      • ‘All these goals seem unattainable in the chaos, confusion and disorder that seem to prevail presently in and around Pakistan and indeed in the whole world of humanity.’
      • ‘People tend to think of health only when ill and a medical emergency often leaves victims and families in utter confusion and panic.’
      • ‘The village went into an uproarious panic as people scattered everywhere in confusion and fear.’
      • ‘Passengers were herded to the back of the planes in horrific scenes of panic and confusion as many came to the terrible realisation their flights were about to be sent plunging to the ground.’
      • ‘The biggest risk from a dirty bomb is the chaos and confusion caused by mass panic.’
      • ‘The crowd was screaming, but not in panic or confusion.’
      • ‘Regulators say confusion and panic led to last year's deadly farmer's market crash in Santa Monica.’
      • ‘And when the Empire came to an end the values, the expectations, the symbols, and the sanctions of Confucian government were thrown into confusion.’
      • ‘Her voice was shrill, warped by panic, confusion, and a small feeling of wild hope and relief flooding through her all at once.’
      • ‘The remaining soldiers were suddenly thrown into confusion as there squad leader and sergeant were both killed in an instant.’
      • ‘A strange sense of panic and confusion started to overtake him as the gravity of his situation set in.’
      • ‘The idea was that by sending intelligence agencies off on a false trail, panic and confusion would be created, to the point where the army might have to step in to take control.’
      • ‘Much of the union leadership was thrown into confusion and crisis.’
      • ‘I'm sure he's even chased his own in the utter confusion of the situation.’
      • ‘Dreams about being attacked bring feelings of panic and confusion.’
      • ‘The airport, which had to be shut down for two hours, was thrown into confusion as news of the incident reached passengers.’
      • ‘That's the way to create the impression of confusion, panic and chaos.’
      • ‘A certain distancing by the party leadership has left questions unanswered and added to confusion and panic in the republican movement.’
      • ‘The knights on the bridge behind were thrown into confusion, panicked, and retreated.’
      • ‘Even in these testing situations, panic and confusion ran high when someone hit the water.’
      disorder, disarray, disorganization, disorderliness, untidiness, chaos, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, madness, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, furore, frenzy, uproar, babel, hurly-burly, maelstrom, muddle, mess, shambles
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    2. 1.2in singular A disorderly jumble.
      ‘all I can see is a confusion of brown cardboard boxes’
      • ‘He's pulled to his feet and stands vacantly and unhelpfully behind the coffin as it see-saws up the steps, carried by the royal family, in a confusion of priests and cameramen.’
      • ‘The bottom is covered with a confusion of broken rubble and weed.’
      • ‘One year ago to the day I stood behind a wire fence staring at a confusion of cranes, bulldozers and lorries scurrying around what could only be described as a building site.’
      • ‘I have provided a map of a fairly straightforward route, anything more would be a confusion of directions.’
      • ‘Watched at normal speed, this sequence is now a confusion of criss-crossing energy bolts and impact explosions.’
      • ‘The white men fired their weapons, creating a confusion of noise.’
      • ‘There was something about it that lured him in through the gate, which had been reduced to a confusion of bent, hollow tubing many years before.’
      • ‘My apartment reflects this - a confusion of colours, styles and stuff.’
      • ‘Wisdom derives from simplicity; decisions from not having a confusion of choices, and values from parental behaviour.’
      • ‘Whilst the background was a confusion of cloth the picture was distinct.’
      • ‘A lone figure awaited them; he stood amidst a confusion of metal and tubing.’
      • ‘Breath tumbles invisibly between the teeth, a confusion of molecules.’
      • ‘Within moments of entering the massive hallway I was separated from my grasshopper companion in a confusion of unfamiliar people and totally lost sight of him.’
      • ‘A weak story, tepid characters, a confusion of plots and, to top it all, some terrible editing make this one of the worst reads of the month.’
      • ‘On it there is a confusion of bottles and what I think are a few photographs in frames.’
      • ‘The rest of the gig is but a confusion of splintered sounds and images, as if someone had smashed my memory like a glass bowl and stuck it back together in the wrong order with half the pieces missing.’
      • ‘This is a complicated text in which time and space overlap, while images and metaphors intertwine, resulting in a confusion of characters and places.’
      • ‘Then I got tangled in a confusion of traffic jams, roadworks, diversions and obscure road signs.’
      • ‘Here on the battlefield, everything was a confusion of color, movement and smell.’
      • ‘He felt hands touching him, heard a confusion of voices calling him.’
      jumble, muddle, mess, heap, tangle, entanglement, tumble, welter, litter, shambles
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  • 2The state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something.

    ‘she looked about her in confusion’
    • ‘A chorus of applause and cheers greeted this, so loud for so few that I looked around in confusion, wondering where they had hidden all the extra people.’
    • ‘First, the lines of passage and the stages of human growth have been blurred, causing intense bewilderment and psychological confusion.’
    • ‘I arrive at the almost empty market place, my mind whirling in confusion.’
    • ‘There's no confusion in their minds at all about this issue, and it's precisely as you describe.’
    • ‘She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, wondering if he had really left, or if this was just some elaborate ‘magic’ trick.’
    • ‘This conquest of time by air power provides surprise, and surprise in turn affects the mind, causing confusion and disorientation.’
    • ‘They were both breathing quickly and her mind was outrageous in confusion and wonder.’
    • ‘I stood frozen in confusion, wondering if what I had just seen was real.’
    • ‘All it creates is confusion in the minds of drivers who are not familiar with the area.’
    • ‘I obeyed, never taking my eyes off her, my mind racing with confusion.’
    • ‘The prince searches for her through the white night of St. Petersburg, his mind full of confusion, premonitions and anxiety, as on the eve of an attack.’
    • ‘Seeing the light on the road to socialism does appear to have created some mental aberration and confusion in his mind but the trauma of conversion is only to be expected.’
    • ‘The site owner has decided the guy ‘hasn't gone that far yet’ so I am now left in confusion wondering what ‘profane’ means to some people.’
    • ‘I frowned in confusion, and wondered where to go from here.’
    • ‘To teach a melange of faiths or none at all is to sow confusion in the minds of the young and deny our children that inner strength that comes from a clearly held belief.’
    • ‘His mind was racing in confusion, in terror, in remaining anger and in deep sorrow.’
    • ‘Her mind is in confusion and it is hard to express it.’
    • ‘But this caused a lot of confusion in the minds of the public and even among medical practitioners who prescribed the drug.’
    • ‘‘Thanks,’ she said before she disappeared out the door in the back, mind whirling in confusion.’
    • ‘They grow up in confusion and bewilderment as children, then often pass into denial as young adults and sometimes remain frightened even into old age.’
    bewilderment, bafflement, perplexity, puzzlement, mystification, stupefaction, disorientation, befuddlement, muddle
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    1. 2.1 The mistaking of one person or thing for another.
      ‘there is some confusion between ‘unlawful’ and ‘illegal’’
      count noun ‘most of the errors are reasonable confusions between similar words’
      • ‘In fact, this appeared to be a confusion of the user and the used.’
      • ‘It leads to confusion when credentials are mistaken for credibility, or competence for character.’
      • ‘It is necessary to point out this fact to prevent a confusion of socialism and interventionism.’
      • ‘Doctors and nurses should always check the label before administering any substance to a patient, but this kind of packaging can only increase the risk of confusion and drug error.’
      • ‘The moral confusion created by mistaking preferences for moral judgements has brought a note of hysteria into the consideration of modern Scotland and its complex moral issues.’
      • ‘This seems to be a waste, a duplication and a confusion of strategy and direction.’
      • ‘The term has produced much confusion, because the word ‘organic’ means different things to different people.’
      • ‘We might say there is a confusion of measuring and defining.’
      • ‘Therefore, it is no wonder that there is a confusion of roles between the curator and the sales manager.’
      • ‘This is caused by confusion with the German word ‘Ziege.’’
      • ‘Since the European Community directive was issued, errors arising from confusion between ephedrine and epinephrine have been reported.’
      • ‘Potential for confusion exists because the words ‘laminated’ and ‘coating’ sometimes are used interchangeably.’
      • ‘So much of what we talk about is not what God's will is but what makes us feel ok, resulting in a confusion of faith with religion.’
      • ‘It has always seemed to me to reflect a confusion of means and ends.’
      • ‘These efforts flow from a fundamental error - confusion between two very distinct constitutional realms.’
      • ‘In addition, women's voices in the cemetery benefit from a confusion of public and private.’
      • ‘In non-linguistic signifying systems a confusion of the two notions consistently arises.’
      • ‘The same confusion of intent infects his trademark stylistic flourishes.’
      • ‘As a result of this widespread confusion between words and actions, the verdict has divided the press.’
      • ‘Among revolver terms, there is less room for error or confusion.’


Middle English: from Latin confusio(n-), from the verb confundere ‘mingle together’ (see confuse).