Meaning of “puzzle” in the English Dictionary

"puzzle" in British English

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puzzlenoun

uk /ˈpʌz.əl/ us /ˈpʌz.əl/

C2 [ S ] a situation that is difficult to understand:

Scientists have been trying to solve this puzzle for years.

A2 [ C ] a game or toy in which you have to fit separate pieces together, or a problem or question that you have to answer by using your skill or knowledge:

a jigsaw puzzle
a crossword puzzle
a puzzle book

More examples

  • I spent hours reasoning out the solution to the puzzle.
  • She had a complex personality that was a real puzzle to me.

puzzleverb [ I + adv/prep, T ]

uk /ˈpʌz.əl/ us /ˈpʌz.əl/

C1 to cause someone to feel confused and slightly worried because they cannot understand something, or to think hard about something in order to understand it:

The findings of the survey puzzle me - they're not at all what I would have expected.
[ + question word ] It puzzles me why she said that.
Management are still puzzling about/over how the accident could have happened.

More examples

  • The events of that night have been puzzling me for a long time.
  • What puzzles me is why he should have left without telling me.

(Definition of “puzzle” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"puzzle" in American English

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puzzlenoun [ C ]

us /ˈpʌz·əl/

something that is difficult to understand:

Their son is a puzzle to them.
The police are trying to solve the puzzle of who sent them the letter.

A puzzle is also a game or toy in which you have to fit separate pieces together, or a problem or question which you have to answer by using your skill or knowledge:

a jigsaw/crossword puzzle
puzzled
adjective us /ˈpʌz·əld/

She looked puzzled, then suspicious.

(Definition of “puzzle” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)