Definition of confound in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause surprise or confusion in (someone), especially by acting against their expectations.

    ‘the inflation figure confounded economic analysts’
    • ‘Otherwise, this lack of clarity can confuse and confound viewers.’
    • ‘In only a few years, it won't just be the Web that confounds you, it will be your personal computer.’
    • ‘Mind you, sometimes, now and again, Nature confounds us by letting an early break of fair skies extend itself a little, hover on the cusp of change and then, once the weather men are completely confused, settle in for a long hot summer.’
    • ‘After looking at the criminal justice system for many, many years that is what is confounding me tonight.’
    • ‘So, it confounds me how these companies think by repeatedly asking you the same question they will endear themselves to you and think at some point you'll suddenly just change your mind.’
    • ‘I was confounded by this unexpected rationality.’
    • ‘I'm still confounded by how some of you manage to work full time and blog!’
    • ‘In spite of her years of experience, this instance confounded her.’
    • ‘And perhaps they feel that by releasing some sort of statement helps raise again the fear level and confuse and confound their enemies.’
    • ‘It never looks good when individuals who provide the state with lists of names and such activity raises a whole host of moral questions but quite why there should be such a fuss about this list confounds me.’
    • ‘I was equally confounded by the metaphors of this tome.’
    • ‘The Northeast is not where I grew up either, and Yankee culture (one of only many cultures within the history and heritage of the Northeast) still confounds me.’
    • ‘The movie never attempts to surprise or confound us.’
    • ‘I know this record backwards and it still amazes and confounds me like a soulmate.’
    • ‘As if that weren't enough, the disc itself will confuse and confound you.’
    • ‘It will never cease to amaze me that so many people want to shop on a weekend and and it confounds me further that they are forming a queue at the door by 9.30 on a Sunday morning, if not sooner.’
    • ‘But what's confounding me is how it managed to get through a dry cleaner and still be there.’
    • ‘If you're a fan of either of these artists then this release isn't going to surprise or confound you.’
    • ‘So again like a good politician I shall try to tailor my ideology to make it sound more attuned to a reality that surprises and confounds me.’
    • ‘The mind of your average 15-year-old boy is a place that amazes, confuses, confounds and surprises.’
    amaze, astonish, dumbfound, stagger, surprise, startle, stun, stupefy, daze, nonplus
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    1. 1.1 Prove (a theory, expectation, or prediction) wrong.
      ‘the rise in prices confounded expectations’
      • ‘Soup was included in our meals, and though billed as a lowly vegetable and beef concoction, it confounded our expectations by being one of the most memorable dishes of the night.’
      • ‘Why, she's confounding our expectations once again, playing with our notions of gender and roles!’
      • ‘Gangs of criminals are confounding expectations by helping to reduce the fear of crime through making their neighbourhoods a safer place.’
      • ‘The woman, head of Financial Services Tax, confounds the theory that all accountants are dull.’
      • ‘Then you distort that in some way, and so confound the reader's expectation.’
      • ‘I had this pre-formed idea of how Santa Monica would be and it has confounded all of my expectations.’
      • ‘Instead what you get is something inventive and of the moment - they play tunes from their CD's, but they also like mixing stuff up and confounding expectations.’
      • ‘At the same time, the electorate behaves now and then in totally unexpected ways - throwing up verdicts that confound popular expectation.’
      • ‘The housing market is confounding expectations by growing steadily, the country's leading building society said on Tuesday.’
      • ‘It was a suitably surreal showpiece for a night that confounded all expectations.’
      • ‘If we think of the average 18th-century male as being a condescending misogynist, then this man confounds our expectations.’
      • ‘This has confounded the expectation that increased affluence, education, and contact with the outside world would reduce the preference for boys.’
      • ‘With competition for his signature from Holland, Spain and the lower reaches of the Premiership, it's just another reason for a move which may have confounded expectations.’
      • ‘She confounds such theories in her account of her meeting with him.’
      • ‘A man who has experienced tensions in the past as he and his international colleagues confounded all expectations to win the European Championships, beating the host nation in the final, he knew the perfect way to dissipate them.’
      • ‘Britons received four gold medals at the Athens Olympics, confounding cynical expectations that our athletes would trail home with only a miserable brace of bronzes.’
      • ‘It was a low-key event, confounding expectations of gossip columnists dispatched to observe the dirt.’
      • ‘It was tremendous and I don't mind saying my expectations had been confounded.’
      • ‘What actually happened confounded such expectations.’
      • ‘Instead, he has confounded expectations, and his anti-corruption purge has made him something of a hero.’
      invalidate, negate, contradict, counter, go against, discredit, give the lie to, drive a coach and horses through
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    2. 1.2 Defeat (a plan, aim, or hope)
      ‘we will confound these tactics by the pressure groups’
      • ‘Parties and plans often confound the best intentions to live healthfully.’
      • ‘Allies are made, lost and forgotten in a heartbeat; promoters confound the plan by putting our tumultuous trio up as closing act of the night on bills that are, frankly, baffling and then doing nothing to hype the venture.’
      • ‘Perhaps the anti-gambling lobby group has a person on the inside, confounding design plans, adding irrelevant bells, whistles and flashing lights.’
      • ‘He's absolutely incredulous about my becoming a pastor, as if it has confounded his tactics against my authority as his father and given me some extra power he is not prepared to contend with…’
      • ‘But surging goatgrass and declining rainfall combined to confound the plan and spurred him to look for a new spring crop.’
      baffle, puzzle, perplex, bewilder, mystify, bemuse, confuse, frustrate, nonplus, throw
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    3. 1.3archaic Overthrow (an enemy).
      • ‘We trust that the Lord will confound all your enemies.’
  • 2often be confounded withMix up (something) with something else so that the individual elements become difficult to distinguish.

    ‘'nuke' is now a cooking technique, as microwave radiation is confounded with nuclear radiation’
    • ‘Neither should right be confounded with wrong.’
    • ‘Many who have never had an opportunity of knowing any more about mathematics confound it with arithmetic, and consider it an arid science.’
    • ‘But this attempt to confound nationality with race is no better than the Russian attempt to confound it with unity of religion.’
    • ‘Do not confound it with cowardice or ill-temper.’
    mix up, muddle up
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  • Used to express anger or annoyance.

    ‘oh confound it, where is the thing?’


Middle English: from Old French confondre, from Latin confundere ‘pour together, mix up’. Compare with confuse.