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From Middle English confounden (destroy, ruin, perplex), from Anglo-Norman cunfundre and Old French confondre, from Latin confundō (to mingle, mix together). Related to found (to melt (metals in a foundry)) (but not to found (to start), nor to find) and to fusion.


  • 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 stun or amaze.
  3. To fail to see the difference; to mix up; to confuse right and wrong.
    Synonyms: confuse, mix up; see also Thesaurus:confuse
  4. (sometimes proscribed) 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.
  5. To combine in a confused fashion; to mingle so as to make the parts indistinguishable.
    • 1611, Coryat, Crudities, volume I, page 195:
      There the freſh and ſalt water would meete and be confounded together, []
  6. To cause to be ashamed; to abash.
    His actions confounded the skeptics.
  7. To defeat, to frustrate, to thwart.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, 1 Corinthians 1:27:
      But God hath choſen the fooliſh things of the woꝛld, to confound the wiſe: and God hath choſen the weake things of the woꝛld, to confound the things which are mighty:
    • a. 1745, unknown author, “God Save the King”, in The Gentleman's Magazine[2], volume 15, page 552:
      O Lord our God ariſe, / Scatter his enemies, / And make them fall: / Confound their politics, / Fruſtrate their knaviſh tricks, / On him our hopes we fix, / O 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.
  8. (dated) To damn (a mild oath).
    Confound you!
    Confound the lady!
  9. (archaic) To destroy, ruin, or devastate; to bring to ruination.

Derived terms[edit]



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.