Definition of puzzle in English:

puzzle

verb

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

    ‘one remark he made puzzled me’
    • ‘We were puzzled by your remark that you had the standard and there is no other design, so we did a little detective work.’
    • ‘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 why so many people seem so unwilling to understand this.’
    • ‘Her doctor is puzzled how she walked around with such a big gash without feeling a thing, and it is odd.’
    • ‘I can understand why you are puzzled, and certainly there is a somewhat surprising explanation for this.’
    • ‘I was puzzled that my doctor saw this as a cause for celebration but they are a breed apart.’
    • ‘It puzzles me why this is beyond Kerry's understanding.’
    • ‘This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the supernatural.’
    • ‘Both of these eccentricities puzzle people and often offend them. -’
    • ‘Local people are puzzled by the find and were disgusted that anyone would dump carcasses in such a way.’
    • ‘The doctor was puzzled, for the disease must have taken hold long ago.’
    • ‘And here you have the explanation of that great riddle which used to puzzle people - evil and pain.’
    • ‘It just puzzles me why they didn't kill the Doctor when they had the chance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For weeks it was a mystery which had puzzled the people of Bamford - an eagle owl perched on an electricity pylon.’
    • ‘Doctors were puzzled because the fungus was thought to be found only in mosquitoes and other insects.’
    • ‘It puzzles me that a person starting up a business can't even afford a sign-writer.’
    puzzling, bewildering, perplexing, mystifying, bemusing, confusing, unclear, difficult to understand, hard to understand, beyond one, above one's head
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    1. 1.1no object Think hard about something difficult to understand or explain.
      ‘she was still puzzling over this problem when she reached the office’
      • ‘Statisticians are puzzling over some peculiar trends in vehicle sales.’
      • ‘Vivienne asked, puzzling over how his skin felt quite warm under her fingertips.’
      • ‘Yet they maintain just enough ambiguity so that the audience is left still puzzling over the piece afterwards.’
      • ‘There's a sinister tie-in with Social Security, too, that needs puzzling over.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I puzzled for quite a long time over the sort of threshold that I thought might be most appropriate.’
      • ‘But that has not stopped some observers puzzling over why Kingdom should go public.’
      • ‘Just as they are puzzling over the bizarre anomaly, something more shocking happens.’
      • ‘I can't sit puzzling over words when there are fresh-baked cakes to nibble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So next time you are puzzling over a piece of art, take more note of its context.’
      • ‘Many happy hours can be spent puzzling over how to interpret this cheaply.’
      • ‘I just won't be spending a lot of time in the meantime puzzling over her identity.’
      • ‘In fact, critics around the world have been puzzling over how to classify Donnie Darko.’
      • ‘John puzzled at the possible reasons for the break in speech, but decided that reason had very little to do with it.’
      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.
      • ‘And there's something I need to work on about forgiveness, to myself and others, but I haven't puzzled it out quite yet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was trying to puzzle things out when an orb of light came slowly down into the crevice.’
      • ‘I present it for folks who are better at puzzling their way out of things.’
      • ‘Tam was sitting up in her cage, trying to puzzle things out.’
      • ‘Which means that eight years after arriving in the valley, he's still puzzling things out.’
      • ‘I'm still trying to puzzle out how the Slayer's ersatz sister figures into everything.’
      • ‘If you can't use a dictionary to puzzle things out in a script, you are in trouble as an actor.’
      • ‘It'll irritate me, this will, until I've puzzled it out.’
      • ‘I shall not identify which daughter said which thing, leaving it as a task for the reader to puzzle it out.’
      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.

    • ‘Any puzzle, or solitaire game, can be turned into a multi-player game by making a contest out of solving it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The closest I've got is Venice Connection which is as much a puzzle as a game.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The meat and potatoes of adventure games are puzzles and dialogue between characters.’
    • ‘In fact, you'll be required to switch between the two to solve many of the game's puzzles.’
    • ‘They will play games, solve puzzles, and ask questions like: Why can I remember baseball scores but forget where I put my keys?’
    • ‘There are better puzzle games out there, that offer more absorbing and addictive bouts of rapid, simple fun.’
    • ‘Many of the game's platform puzzles require you to double-jump across vast chasms.’
    • ‘There are some puzzles in the game, but nothing too brain taxing.’
    • ‘Ted uses lots of catchy songs, puzzles and word games to help the children have fun and learn while watching.’
    • ‘A good puzzle game tests logic, reflexes and wit in the act of problem solving.’
    • ‘Much of the game's puzzle solving requires an equal amount of careful exploration and item manipulation.’
    • ‘It includes one of the games only jumping puzzles.’
    • ‘For example, the Saboteur mutator turns a solitaire puzzle into a three-player game.’
    • ‘Like a video game or a puzzle, it is a chance to think, learn and show off.’
    1. 1.1
      short for "jigsaw puzzle" (see jigsaw)
      • ‘Is Sunda to Sahul a board game that looks like a puzzle or a puzzle with some board game elements?’
      • ‘Well, I guess it's the way you put the puzzles pieces in the right places.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They couldn't police a child's jig saw puzzle; probably because they haven't the wish to do so.’
      • ‘As he finished speaking, several pieces of the puzzle fell together.’
      • ‘She says the process has been like putting together a jig saw puzzle.’
      • ‘I guessed as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.’
      • ‘It was Luke's face assaulting me with that tender ease, every touch and laugh like a puzzle piece falling into place.’
      • ‘I have mixed the pieces for all three puzzles together.’
      • ‘It seems similar in the way the pieces of the puzzle fall together.’
      • ‘It was like the whole puzzle had fallen off the table.’
      • ‘The child may then have problems with steps, climbing or with puzzles like jigsaws.’
      • ‘If it does, it might be one of the pieces of the jigsaw to these puzzles.’
      • ‘And of course, a truckload of educational toys, books, puzzles, games and music.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are also photographs, giant fungi, jig-saw puzzles, and lots of twinkle lights.’
      • ‘On one side, the children tried their expertise in various games that ranged from puzzles to hitting the ‘bull's eye.’’
      • ‘The pieces of his memory fell together like a puzzle, as he mentally went through what had happened to him.’
    2. 1.2usually in singular A person or thing that is difficult to understand or explain; an enigma.
      ‘the meaning of the poem has always been a puzzle’
      • ‘Even if that were true, however, it would not be a good reason to give up trying to understand the puzzle.’
      • ‘While I cannot hope to resolve the puzzle, I can explain why I come to this conclusion.’
      • ‘James makes an interesting stab at trying to explain these puzzles.’
      • ‘Your intellect and intelligence may have others constantly asking for your help with things that take a lot of thought or are difficult puzzles.’
      • ‘Only the feel bad factor explains puzzles about the fuel protests.’
      • ‘It has always been a puzzle to me that a man so brilliant and personally kind can occasionally err in such judgments.’
      • ‘They remain enigmatic puzzles meant to be meditated on, in the same way that we consider a Magritte.’
      • ‘Chechnya, a puzzle within this great unknown, is even less understood.’
      • ‘What is left is the puzzle and the enigma that we need to figure out.’
      • ‘It looks as if pure puzzles really are what mystery readers like best.’
      • ‘We can make these puzzles so difficult that it would take a champion six hours to complete one.’
      • ‘The Two Reconstructions explains a puzzle that lies at the heart of America's development as a political democracy.’
      • ‘Deciding which end is which has always been a puzzle, but now I know.’
      • ‘The way the managers make sense of this puzzle is best explained in the different economic models for company performance.’
      • ‘Well, there's something to this, but is there really a puzzle to explain?’
      • ‘When a puzzle is not explainable through sound, rational argument then perforce we need to look at the less rational domain.’
      • ‘If Moylan was correct, this goes some way toward explaining the puzzle of the timing of McGee's assassination.’
      • ‘These puzzles are not difficult or complicated, they are simple and straightforward.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There may yet be other solutions to this difficult puzzle.’
      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

/ˈpəzəl//ˈpəzəl/