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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.
    • 1843, William H. Prescott, The History of the Conquest of Mexico
      computations, so difficult as to have baffled, till a comparatively recent period, the most enlightened nations
    • a. 1705, John Locke, “Of the Conduct of the Understanding”, in Posthumous Works of Mr. John Locke: [], London: [] A[wnsham] and J[ohn] Churchill, [], published 1706, OCLC 6963663:
      Every abstruse problem, every intricate question will not baffle, discourage or break it [the mind]
  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, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), 6th edition, London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, OCLC 21766567:
      a suitable scripture ready to repel and baffle them all
    • 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. 1677, Isaac Barrow, The Duty of Prayer (sermon):
      pretences to baffle with his goodness



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


Derived terms[edit]


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. An architectural feature 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


Further reading[edit]


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



Borrowed from English baffle.



baffle m or f (plural baffles)

  1. speaker (audio)
    Synonym: haut-parleur