To befuddle is to confuse. A sticky exam question can befuddle you, or an awkward question about your whereabouts the night before (how can you remember? You were befuddled, after all.)

In sixteenth century Britain a popular thing to do (about the only thing to do) after the hogs had been fed and the chickens put away for the night was fuddle — in other words get pretty drunk. Befuddled was simply the confused state too many pots of mead put your poor brain in, and that's still its basic meaning today. Nowadays, befuddle has a more general meaning of confusion and uncertainty not necessarily caused by too much booze.

Definitions of befuddle

v be confusing or perplexing to; cause to be unable to think clearly

“This question befuddled even the teacher”
bedevil, confound, confuse, discombobulate, fox, fuddle, throw
confuse, disconcert, flurry, put off
cause to feel embarrassment
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confuse or put into disorder
amaze, baffle, beat, bewilder, dumbfound, flummox, get, gravel, mystify, nonplus, perplex, pose, puzzle, stick, stupefy, vex
be a mystery or bewildering to
disorient, disorientate
cause to be lost or disoriented
mix up, stump
cause to be perplexed or confounded
set a difficult problem or riddle
elude, escape
be incomprehensible to; escape understanding by
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v make stupid with alcohol

Type of:
inebriate, intoxicate, soak
make drunk (with alcoholic drinks)

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