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Derivative of 17th-century vernacular bam (to trick, to con), which is a derivative of bam in noun use (fraudster, cheat). Possibly from French embobiner


  • IPA(key): /bæm.ˈbuː.zl̩/
  • (file)


bamboozle (third-person singular simple present bamboozles, present participle bamboozling, simple past and past participle bamboozled)

  1. (transitive, informal) To con, defraud, trick, to make a fool of, to humbug or impose on someone.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 19
      “Look here, friend,” said I, “if you have anything important to tell us, out with it; but if you are only trying to bamboozle us, you are mistaken in your game; that’s all I have to say.”
  2. (transitive, informal) To confuse, frustrate or perplex.
    He's completely bamboozled by the changes in the computer system.
    • 2021 October 12, Jamie Lyall, “Faroe Islands 0-1 Scotland”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Clarke's defence, bolstered by the return of Grant Hanley, was bamboozled by a flurry of Faroese raids, at least one of which should have delivered a goal.


Derived terms[edit]


bamboozle (plural bamboozles)

  1. (obsolete, informal) A cheat, hoax, or imposition.