Definition of puzzle in English:

puzzle

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Cause (someone) to feel confused because they cannot understand something.

    ‘she was puzzled by the doctor's manner’
    • ‘We were puzzled by your remark that you had the standard and there is no other design, so we did a little detective work.’
    • ‘In other rich people news, we're still puzzled beyond belief by the whole McCartney story.’
    • ‘I will take just a very quick call to sort out one or two things that are obviously puzzling people.’
    • ‘Both of these eccentricities puzzle people and often offend them. -’
    • ‘For weeks it was a mystery which had puzzled the people of Bamford - an eagle owl perched on an electricity pylon.’
    • ‘I am very puzzled why people with no helmets are stopped by police and these extremely noisy bikes have a free range.’
    • ‘It puzzles me that a person starting up a business can't even afford a sign-writer.’
    • ‘The doctor was puzzled, for the disease must have taken hold long ago.’
    • ‘I was puzzled that my doctor saw this as a cause for celebration but they are a breed apart.’
    • ‘This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the supernatural.’
    • ‘It puzzles me why so many people seem so unwilling to understand this.’
    • ‘I can understand why you are puzzled, and certainly there is a somewhat surprising explanation for this.’
    • ‘Doctors were puzzled because the fungus was thought to be found only in mosquitoes and other insects.’
    • ‘Local people are puzzled by the find and were disgusted that anyone would dump carcasses in such a way.’
    • ‘It just puzzles me why they didn't kill the Doctor when they had the chance.’
    • ‘It puzzles me why this is beyond Kerry's understanding.’
    • ‘Mention also needs to be made about one related aspect of the current education system that puzzles me.’
    • ‘The people who puzzle him are those who don't read it and still hate it.’
    • ‘And here you have the explanation of that great riddle which used to puzzle people - evil and pain.’
    • ‘Her doctor is puzzled how she walked around with such a big gash without feeling a thing, and it is odd.’
    puzzling, bewildering, perplexing, mystifying, bemusing, confusing, unclear, difficult to understand, hard to understand, beyond one, above one's head
    perplexed, confused, bewildered, bemused, baffled, mystified, confounded, nonplussed, at a loss, at sea
    perplex, confuse, bewilder, bemuse, baffle, mystify, confound, nonplus, throw, set someone thinking
    difficult to understand, hard to understand, baffling, perplexing, mystifying, bewildering, confusing, complicated, unclear, beyond one, above one's head, mysterious, enigmatic, ambiguous, paradoxical, obscure, abstruse, unfathomable, inexplicable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, cryptic, oracular
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    1. 1.1no object Think hard about something because one cannot understand it.
      ‘she was still puzzling over this problem when she reached the office’
      • ‘I can't sit puzzling over words when there are fresh-baked cakes to nibble.’
      • ‘I just won't be spending a lot of time in the meantime puzzling over her identity.’
      • ‘But that has not stopped some observers puzzling over why Kingdom should go public.’
      • ‘So next time you are puzzling over a piece of art, take more note of its context.’
      • ‘In fact, critics around the world have been puzzling over how to classify Donnie Darko.’
      • ‘I puzzled for quite a long time over the sort of threshold that I thought might be most appropriate.’
      • ‘Yet they maintain just enough ambiguity so that the audience is left still puzzling over the piece afterwards.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All week I've been puzzling as to why there's been a heavy-duty garden sack neatly covering our washing basket.’
      • ‘Just as they are puzzling over the bizarre anomaly, something more shocking happens.’
      • ‘His mind flew from one wild idea to another as he tried to puzzle out the reason she was closeted in her room like that.’
      • ‘Statisticians are puzzling over some peculiar trends in vehicle sales.’
      • ‘Many happy hours can be spent puzzling over how to interpret this cheaply.’
      • ‘John puzzled at the possible reasons for the break in speech, but decided that reason had very little to do with it.’
      • ‘There's a sinister tie-in with Social Security, too, that needs puzzling over.’
      • ‘Vivienne asked, puzzling over how his skin felt quite warm under her fingertips.’
      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
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    2. 1.2puzzle something out Solve or understand something by thinking hard.
      ‘she was trying to puzzle out who the speakers were’
      • ‘It'll irritate me, this will, until I've puzzled it out.’
      • ‘Which means that eight years after arriving in the valley, he's still puzzling things out.’
      • ‘Tam was sitting up in her cage, trying to puzzle things out.’
      • ‘I present it for folks who are better at puzzling their way out of things.’
      • ‘There may have been some interesting birds hidden behind the flocks of Canada Geese and American Black Duck, but we were too cold to puzzle them out.’
      • ‘I'm still trying to puzzle out how the Slayer's ersatz sister figures into everything.’
      • ‘I shall not identify which daughter said which thing, leaving it as a task for the reader to puzzle it out.’
      • ‘If you can't use a dictionary to puzzle things out in a script, you are in trouble as an actor.’
      • ‘He was trying to puzzle things out when an orb of light came slowly down into the crevice.’
      • ‘And there's something I need to work on about forgiveness, to myself and others, but I haven't puzzled it out quite yet.’
      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
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noun

  • 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’
    • ‘For example, the Saboteur mutator turns a solitaire puzzle into a three-player game.’
    • ‘The meat and potatoes of adventure games are puzzles and dialogue between characters.’
    • ‘There are some puzzles in the game, but nothing too brain taxing.’
    • ‘The closest I've got is Venice Connection which is as much a puzzle as a game.’
    • ‘They will play games, solve puzzles, and ask questions like: Why can I remember baseball scores but forget where I put my keys?’
    • ‘In fact, you'll be required to switch between the two to solve many of the game's puzzles.’
    • ‘The puzzle designs are very inspired and fit perfectly into the game.’
    • ‘Basically, it would be the equivalent of solving a puzzle in a video game.’
    • ‘Much of the game's puzzle solving requires an equal amount of careful exploration and item manipulation.’
    • ‘Any puzzle, or solitaire game, can be turned into a multi-player game by making a contest out of solving it.’
    • ‘It includes one of the games only jumping puzzles.’
    • ‘Many of the game's platform puzzles require you to double-jump across vast chasms.’
    • ‘Ted uses lots of catchy songs, puzzles and word games to help the children have fun and learn while watching.’
    • ‘Logic puzzles and strategy games represent another category of possible interest to the mathematically inclined.’
    • ‘The game was supposedly invented by a French count who was incarcerated in prison and is really a puzzle more than a game.’
    • ‘Like a video game or a puzzle, it is a chance to think, learn and show off.’
    • ‘A good puzzle game tests logic, reflexes and wit in the act of problem solving.’
    • ‘There are better puzzle games out there, that offer more absorbing and addictive bouts of rapid, simple fun.’
    • ‘The biggest factor that can make or break an adventure game is its puzzles.’
    • ‘Also, several on-the-spot events like computer games and puzzles were conducted.’
    1. 1.1 A jigsaw puzzle.
      ‘a puzzle with 500 pieces’
      figurative ‘realization dawned as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place’
      • ‘Is Sunda to Sahul a board game that looks like a puzzle or a puzzle with some board game elements?’
      • ‘The pieces of his memory fell together like a puzzle, as he mentally went through what had happened to him.’
      • ‘There are also photographs, giant fungi, jig-saw puzzles, and lots of twinkle lights.’
      • ‘They couldn't police a child's jig saw puzzle; probably because they haven't the wish to do so.’
      • ‘On one side, the children tried their expertise in various games that ranged from puzzles to hitting the ‘bull's eye.’’
      • ‘The child may then have problems with steps, climbing or with puzzles like jigsaws.’
      • ‘We all blinked as that piece of the puzzle fell into place, and said a perfectly chorused, ‘Hello.’’
      • ‘Another small piece of the puzzle fell into place for me.’
      • ‘It's not as though anything is actually is happening, yet pieces of the puzzle fall out of the box all the time.’
      • ‘I guessed as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.’
      • ‘If it does, it might be one of the pieces of the jigsaw to these puzzles.’
      • ‘It was like the whole puzzle had fallen off the table.’
      • ‘I have mixed the pieces for all three puzzles together.’
      • ‘Well, I guess it's the way you put the puzzles pieces in the right places.’
      • ‘The jig-saw puzzle of nation states in Africa, which defies geopolitical and economic logic, is simply the legacy of Europe's sharing out of Africa.’
      • ‘As he finished speaking, several pieces of the puzzle fell together.’
      • ‘And of course, a truckload of educational toys, books, puzzles, games and music.’
      • ‘It was Luke's face assaulting me with that tender ease, every touch and laugh like a puzzle piece falling into place.’
      • ‘She says the process has been like putting together a jig saw puzzle.’
      • ‘It seems similar in the way the pieces of the puzzle fall together.’
  • 2A person or thing that is difficult to understand or explain; an enigma.

    ‘the meaning of the poem has always been a puzzle’
    • ‘While I cannot hope to resolve the puzzle, I can explain why I come to this conclusion.’
    • ‘I sat for a couple of years at the table of the Security Council and was exposed daily to real puzzles about exactly the question you ask.’
    • ‘Only the feel bad factor explains puzzles about the fuel protests.’
    • ‘James makes an interesting stab at trying to explain these puzzles.’
    • ‘Well, there's something to this, but is there really a puzzle to explain?’
    • ‘Chechnya, a puzzle within this great unknown, is even less understood.’
    • ‘The Two Reconstructions explains a puzzle that lies at the heart of America's development as a political democracy.’
    • ‘Your intellect and intelligence may have others constantly asking for your help with things that take a lot of thought or are difficult puzzles.’
    • ‘The way the managers make sense of this puzzle is best explained in the different economic models for company performance.’
    • ‘Even if that were true, however, it would not be a good reason to give up trying to understand the puzzle.’
    • ‘When a puzzle is not explainable through sound, rational argument then perforce we need to look at the less rational domain.’
    • ‘These puzzles are not difficult or complicated, they are simple and straightforward.’
    • ‘It looks as if pure puzzles really are what mystery readers like best.’
    • ‘What is left is the puzzle and the enigma that we need to figure out.’
    • ‘They remain enigmatic puzzles meant to be meditated on, in the same way that we consider a Magritte.’
    • ‘We can make these puzzles so difficult that it would take a champion six hours to complete one.’
    • ‘If Moylan was correct, this goes some way toward explaining the puzzle of the timing of McGee's assassination.’
    • ‘Deciding which end is which has always been a puzzle, but now I know.’
    • ‘There may yet be other solutions to this difficult puzzle.’
    • ‘It has always been a puzzle to me that a man so brilliant and personally kind can occasionally err in such judgments.’
    enigma, mystery, paradox, conundrum, poser, riddle, question, question mark, problem
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

puzzle

/ˈpʌz(ə)l/