Definition of confusion in English:



  • 1Lack of understanding; uncertainty.

    ‘there seems to be some confusion about which system does what’
    ‘he cleared up the confusion over the party's policy’
    • ‘While that was happening jobs were protected, but there was confusion over which jobs would be temporary and which permanent.’
    • ‘Much of the information came from the flood of news agency reports, reflecting the general sense of chaos and confusion over what was happening.’
    • ‘There is a lot of confusion over what the law requires.’
    • ‘There seems to be some confusion about what one should be doing at the moment.’
    • ‘There will also be psychological confusion about such happenings.’
    • ‘There's actually some confusion about whether the film was ever intended to be released in theaters.’
    • ‘Indecision and confusion about where funds were to come from and problems securing necessary materials also affected construction.’
    • ‘There is much confusion over what actually happened on their game-winning drive.’
    • ‘Immediately any confusion over identity would have been solved.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But joy was often mixed up with confusion about what really happened.’
    • ‘The uncertainty symbolises the current confusion over the role of the arts, the group declare.’
    • ‘It's due to start at the beginning of the season but there's confusion over what leagues and competitions it will apply to.’
    • ‘However, there is uncertainty and confusion about the nature and purpose of global education.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The theft happened on Tuesday afternoon but last night there was confusion about what was in the documents.’
    • ‘It is disturbing that there appears to be so much uncertainty and confusion about rights today.’
    • ‘Newspapers only added to the inaccuracies and confusion about what really happened.’
    • ‘For the moment, expect confusion about what's legal and what isn't in bars and clubs to continue unabated.’
    uncertainty, lack of certainty, unsureness, indecision, hesitation, hesitancy, scepticism, doubt, ignorance
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    1. 1.1A situation of panic; a breakdown of order.
      ‘the shaken survivors retreated in confusion’
      • ‘I'm sure he's even chased his own in the utter confusion of the situation.’
      • ‘People tend to think of health only when ill and a medical emergency often leaves victims and families in utter confusion and panic.’
      • ‘A certain distancing by the party leadership has left questions unanswered and added to confusion and panic in the republican movement.’
      • ‘The biggest risk from a dirty bomb is the chaos and confusion caused by mass panic.’
      • ‘The knights on the bridge behind were thrown into confusion, panicked, and retreated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The village went into an uproarious panic as people scattered everywhere in confusion and fear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That's the way to create the impression of confusion, panic and chaos.’
      • ‘Dreams about being attacked bring feelings of panic and confusion.’
      • ‘Much of the union leadership was thrown into confusion and crisis.’
      • ‘Even in these testing situations, panic and confusion ran high when someone hit the water.’
      • ‘The airport, which had to be shut down for two hours, was thrown into confusion as news of the incident reached passengers.’
      • ‘Her voice was shrill, warped by panic, confusion, and a small feeling of wild hope and relief flooding through her all at once.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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. 1.2A disorderly jumble.
      ‘all I can see is a confusion of brown cardboard boxes’
      • ‘A lone figure awaited them; he stood amidst a confusion of metal and tubing.’
      • ‘He felt hands touching him, heard a confusion of voices calling him.’
      • ‘I have provided a map of a fairly straightforward route, anything more would be a confusion of directions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Breath tumbles invisibly between the teeth, a confusion of molecules.’
      • ‘Here on the battlefield, everything was a confusion of color, movement and smell.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Watched at normal speed, this sequence is now a confusion of criss-crossing energy bolts and impact explosions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On it there is a confusion of bottles and what I think are a few photographs in frames.’
      • ‘The white men fired their weapons, creating a confusion of noise.’
      • ‘My apartment reflects this - a confusion of colours, styles and stuff.’
      • ‘Whilst the background was a confusion of cloth the picture was distinct.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The bottom is covered with a confusion of broken rubble and weed.’
      • ‘Wisdom derives from simplicity; decisions from not having a confusion of choices, and values from parental behaviour.’
      • ‘Then I got tangled in a confusion of traffic jams, roadworks, diversions and obscure road signs.’
      • ‘This is a complicated text in which time and space overlap, while images and metaphors intertwine, resulting in a confusion of characters and places.’
      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’
    • ‘But this caused a lot of confusion in the minds of the public and even among medical practitioners who prescribed the drug.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They were both breathing quickly and her mind was outrageous in confusion and wonder.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I stood frozen in confusion, wondering if what I had just seen was real.’
    • ‘There's no confusion in their minds at all about this issue, and it's precisely as you describe.’
    • ‘His mind was racing in confusion, in terror, in remaining anger and in deep sorrow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I arrive at the almost empty market place, my mind whirling in confusion.’
    • ‘First, the lines of passage and the stages of human growth have been blurred, causing intense bewilderment and psychological confusion.’
    • ‘I obeyed, never taking my eyes off her, my mind racing with confusion.’
    • ‘Her mind is in confusion and it is hard to express it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, wondering if he had really left, or if this was just some elaborate ‘magic’ trick.’
    • ‘‘Thanks,’ she said before she disappeared out the door in the back, mind whirling in confusion.’
    • ‘This conquest of time by air power provides surprise, and surprise in turn affects the mind, causing confusion and disorientation.’
    • ‘I frowned in confusion, and wondered where to go from here.’
    • ‘All it creates is confusion in the minds of drivers who are not familiar with the area.’
    bewilderment, bafflement, perplexity, puzzlement, mystification, stupefaction, disorientation, befuddlement, muddle
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    1. 2.1The mistaking of one person or thing for another.
      ‘there is some confusion between “unlawful” and “illegal”’
      ‘most of the errors are reasonable confusions between similar words or sequences of words’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As a result of this widespread confusion between words and actions, the verdict has divided the press.’
      • ‘The term has produced much confusion, because the word ‘organic’ means different things to different people.’
      • ‘It is necessary to point out this fact to prevent a confusion of socialism and interventionism.’
      • ‘In non-linguistic signifying systems a confusion of the two notions consistently arises.’
      • ‘This is caused by confusion with the German word ‘Ziege.’’
      • ‘We might say there is a confusion of measuring and defining.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In addition, women's voices in the cemetery benefit from a confusion of public and private.’
      • ‘Among revolver terms, there is less room for error or confusion.’
      • ‘These efforts flow from a fundamental error - confusion between two very distinct constitutional realms.’
      • ‘It leads to confusion when credentials are mistaken for credibility, or competence for character.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Potential for confusion exists because the words ‘laminated’ and ‘coating’ sometimes are used interchangeably.’
      • ‘The same confusion of intent infects his trademark stylistic flourishes.’
      • ‘Since the European Community directive was issued, errors arising from confusion between ephedrine and epinephrine have been reported.’
      • ‘In fact, this appeared to be a confusion of the user and the used.’
      • ‘It has always seemed to me to reflect a confusion of means and ends.’
      • ‘Therefore, it is no wonder that there is a confusion of roles between the curator and the sales manager.’
      • ‘This seems to be a waste, a duplication and a confusion of strategy and direction.’


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