Word of the Day

baffle

Definition

if a problem, someone’s behaviour, etc. baffles you, you cannot understand it or solve it

Origin and usage

The origin of the word baffle is obscure: it may come from the French ‘bafouer’ meaning to ridicule or ‘beffer’ meaning to mock. It first came into use in English around the 1540s, when the word baffle meant ‘to disgrace’. It has been claimed that the word may also be derived from the natural sound a person makes when they are frustrated or disgusted, like ‘baf’ or ‘bah’.



Examples

Baffle is a word that refers to something that is deeply confusing or hard to understand. Take, for example, the case of a space stone discovered in Egypt in 1996.

Called the Hypatia Stone and named after an Egyptian female mathematician from the fourth century, the rock has continued to baffle scientists, who are no closer to determining its origin now than when it was first discovered. The only conclusion researchers have been able to make is that the Hypatia Stone is unlike any space rock ever unearthed.

When it was found in 1996, scientists quickly figured out the stone was not from this planet. Over the next two years, other tests revealed that the rock was not part of a comet or a meteorite, either. The most recent tests, conducted by a team at the University of South Africa, have only deepened the baffling mystery. According to the researchers in South Africa, the Hypatia Stone is incredibly old and contains compounds and elements that seem to suggest the stone was formed before the sun and planets came to be!

Quotations

“Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you.”
(George R. R. Martin)

Synonyms

complicate, confuse, obscure
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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