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Alternative forms[edit]


Origin uncertain. Perhaps related to French bafouer (to scorn) or obsolete French befer (to mock),[1] via Scots bauchle (to disgrace).[2]


  • IPA(key): /ˈbæfl̩/
  • Hyphenation: baf‧fle
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æfəl


baffle (third-person singular simple present baffles, present participle baffling, simple past and past participle baffled)

  1. To bewilder completely; to confuse or perplex. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:confuse
    I am baffled by the contradictions and omissions in the instructions.
  2. (intransitive) To struggle in vain. [from 19th c.]
    A ship baffles with the winds.
  3. (now rare) To foil; to thwart. [from 17th c.]
    • 1798, William Cowper, On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture:
      the art that baffles time's tyrannic claim
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      a suitable scripture ready to repel and baffle them all
    • 1898, George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra:
      It may have been the failure of Christianity to emancipate itself from expiatory theories of moral responsibility, guilt, innocence, reward, punishment, and the rest of it, that baffled its intention of changing the world.
    • 1915, Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales:
      So they had to search the world again for a sphinx. And still there was none. But they were not men that it is easy to baffle, and at last they found a sphinx in a desert at evening watching a ruined temple whose gods she had eaten hundreds of years ago when her hunger was on her.
  4. (obsolete) To publicly disgrace, especially of a recreant knight. [16th–17th c.]
  5. (obsolete) To hoodwink or deceive (someone). [16th–18th c.]
    • a. 1678 (date written), Isaac Barrow, “(please specify the chapter name or sermon number). The Duty of Prayer”, in The Works of Dr. Isaac Barrow. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to VII), London: A[braham] J[ohn] Valpy, [], published 1830–1831, →OCLC:
      pretences to baffle with his goodness

Derived terms[edit]



  • to be baffled as to why/how (something happened)



baffle (plural baffles)

  1. A device used to dampen the effects of such things as sound, light, or fluid. Specifically, a baffle is a surface which is placed inside an open area to inhibit direct motion from one part to another, without preventing motion altogether.
    Tanker trucks use baffles to keep the liquids inside from sloshing around.
  2. A barrier designed to confuse enemies or make them vulnerable.
  3. (US, dialect, coal mining) A lever for operating the throttle valve of a winding engine.


  • French: baffle
  • Spanish: bafle



  1. ^ baffle”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “baffle”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from English baffle.



baffle m or f (plural baffles)

  1. speaker (audio)
    Synonym: haut-parleur