Definition of perplexity in English:



  • 1Inability to deal with or understand something complicated or unaccountable.

    ‘she paused in perplexity’
    • ‘The perplexity of the public has grown in recent weeks.’
    • ‘Confessions of perplexity are, it is assumed, not wanted.’
    • ‘The ambivalence from the clash of voices results in mental and emotional states of perplexity.’
    • ‘In my perplexity, I rang the council for clarification.’
    • ‘I pointed that out to her and watched her face change from its look of indignant perplexity to a very sad and hurt confusion.’
    • ‘But my perplexity went well beyond the lack of easy egalitarianism.’
    • ‘The ban has been met with a combination of anger and perplexity.’
    • ‘For all their cheerful harmony, his pictures were painted in solitude, with perplexity and misgiving until he saw them in their completed form.’
    • ‘The sensory overload of such prose inspires perplexity and gives little assurance on rereading.’
    • ‘You can see perplexity and anger in their stance, their walk, their whole demeanor.’
    • ‘‘No I didn't,’ Duke replied with a look of perplexity.’
    • ‘The defining images of the tournament so far have been ones of American disappointment, frustration and sheer perplexity at the force of their rivals.’
    • ‘‘I guess I'd say we're a metal band,’ he says with some perplexity.’
    • ‘In the meantime, a strange mood of perplexity and foreboding has settled on Europe.’
    • ‘The true perplexity of it came clear several days later, when we were driving back from a two-day sidetrip to Waterton National Park.’
    • ‘Gradually the look of perplexity was replaced by the slightest of smirks as the boys' minds took in what was happening.’
    • ‘All they are trying to do is bring perplexity and division among the residents.’
    • ‘They gazed at her work with puzzled perplexity.’
    • ‘Confusion and perplexity characterise the political establishment everywhere.’
    • ‘We may come in love and sympathy, perhaps with perplexity or even anger, but we come to share and for a time of quiet reflection.’
    confusion, bewilderment, puzzlement, bafflement, incomprehension, lack of comprehension, mystification, bemusement, befuddlement
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    1. 1.1A complicated or baffling situation or thing.
      ‘the perplexities of international relations’
      • ‘Indeed, the best interludes are scenes where teenagers capture the perplexities of adolescence with a throwaway observation.’
      • ‘Both economists were fascinated by the perplexities of elections and voting under simple majority rule.’
      • ‘Anyone might be confused by these ongoing perplexities.’
      • ‘People there appear much more occupied with the daily problem of survival than the perplexities of decommissioning.’
      • ‘I saw for the first time the anxieties, stresses and perplexities of war.’
      • ‘His mind was a battleground of perplexities and implications.’
      • ‘The stock market and its vast perplexities were given a great respect from this ancient crone, whose understandings did not reach into that field.’
      • ‘Outside the train, the concert footage is mingled with modern-day interviews, much of them regarding the political perplexities at the time.’
      • ‘Because the characters' moral perplexities are so carefully rendered throughout, they are captivating to the end.’
      • ‘These contentious issues concern two perplexities in particular.’
      • ‘Our academic knowledge, whether material or religious, does not in any way help solve the perplexities of life.’
      • ‘But a recent meditation in a deserted Moroccan line-up led me to ponder the perplexities of relative perfection.’
      • ‘I needed to find someone who knew the perplexities of managing championship greens.’
      • ‘Minimally, when this book is open, philosophical perplexities are there, right there, in front of readers' eyes.’
      • ‘But to talk in this way only invites new perplexities.’
      • ‘Military members are real people living at a particular time in history and experiencing the perplexities of changing, clashing values.’
      • ‘The novel explores the meaning of enlightenment, and the perplexities of reconciling the ineffable and the everyday.’
      • ‘Yet, people are more prone to make mistakes when sleep deprivation and all the other perplexities of the race take their accumulative toll.’
      • ‘Delia's stepmother is dealing with strange perplexities of her own.’
      • ‘A dominant assumption in all forms, however, is that the clients have, within themselves, the answer to their perplexities and conflicts.’
      complexity, complication, intricacy, problem, difficulty, dilemma, mystery, puzzle, enigma, paradox, obscurity
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  • 2archaic An entangled state.

    ‘the dense perplexity of dwarf palm, garlanded creepers, glossy undergrowth’
    tangle, web, morass, jungle, snarl, twist, turn, complexity, confusion, complication, entanglement, convolution, intricacy
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Middle English: from Old French perplexite or late Latin perplexitas, from Latin perplexus entangled, confused (see perplex).