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Borrowed from Anglo-Norman cunfundre, from Old French confondre, from Latin confundō (to mingle, mix together).


  • IPA(key): /kənˈfaʊnd/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -aʊnd
  • Hyphenation: con‧found


confound (third-person singular simple present confounds, present participle confounding, simple past and past participle confounded)

  1. To perplex or puzzle.
    Synonym: puzzle
    • 1830, Joseph Smith, Jr., Book of Mormon: Ether, i, 34,
      And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.
    • 2012 June 29, Kevin Mitchell, “Roger Federer back from Wimbledon 2012 brink to beat Julien Benneteau”, in The Guardian[1], archived from the original on 15 November 2016:
      The fightback when it came was in the [Roger] Federer fashion: unfussy, filled with classy strokes from the back with perfectly timed interventions at the net that confounded his opponent. The third set passed in a bit of a blur, the fourth, which led to the second tie-break, was the most dramatic of the match.
  2. To fail to see the difference; to mix up; to confuse right and wrong.
    Synonyms: confuse, mix up
  3. To make something worse.
    Don't confound the situation by yelling.
    • 1983, Carol M. Anderson, Susan Stewart, Mastering Resistance: A Practical Guide to Family Therapy,
      While she had obeyed him, smiling sweetly all the time, she had nursed a growing resentment of what she called his "Latin American macho attitude." To confound the problem, his mother, who lived with them on and off, was described by the wife as being as domineering as her son.
  4. To combine in a confused fashion; to mingle so as to make the parts indistinguishable.
  5. To cause to be ashamed; to abash.
    His actions confounded the skeptics.
  6. To defeat, to frustrate, to thwart.
    • 1769, King James Bible, Oxford Standard text, 1 Corinthians, i, 27,
      But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
    • (Can we date this quote by unknown and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?), God Save the Queen,
      O Lord, our God, arise, / Scatter thine enemies, / And make them fall / Confound their politics, / Frustrate their knavish tricks, / On thee our hopes we fix: / God save us all.
    • 1848 February 12, John Mitchel, The United Irishman, Letter to Lord Clarendon,
      I am now, in order the better to confound your politics, going to give you a true account of the means we intend to use, and of the rules, signs, and pass-words of our new United Irish Society Lodge A. 1.—They are so simple that you will never believe them.
  7. (dated) To damn (a mild oath).
    Confound you!
    Confound the lady!
    • 1882, Arthur Conan Doyle, My Friend the Murderer in The Gully of Bluemansdyke and Other Stories,
      "Number 43 is no better, Doctor," said the head-warder, in a slightly reproachful accent, looking in round the corner of my door.
      "Confound 43!" I responded from behind the pages of the Australian Sketcher.
    • 1877, Anna Sewell, Black Beauty Chapter 23[2]
      "Confound these bearing reins!" he said to himself; "I thought we should have some mischief soon—master will be sorely vexed;
  8. (archaic) To bring to ruination.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, lines 51–53:
      ... he with his horrid crew
      Lay vanquisht, rowling in the fiery Gulfe
      Confounded though immortal.
  9. To stun, amaze



confound (plural confounds)

  1. (statistics) A confounding variable.
    Synonym: confounder
    • 2009, C. James Goodwin, Research In Psychology: Methods and Design, John Wiley & Sons (→ISBN), page 175:
      The participants certainly differ in how their practice is distributed (1, 2, or 3 days), but they also differ in how much total practice they get (3, 6, or 9 hours). This is a perfect example of a confound—it is impossible to tell if the results are due to one factor (distribution of practice) or the other (total practice hours); the two factors covary perfectly.