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
  1. verb
    be confusing or perplexing to; cause to be unable to think clearly
    “This question befuddled even the teacher”
    synonyms: 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)
  2. verb
    make stupid with alcohol
    synonyms: fuddle
    see moresee less
    type of:
    inebriate, intoxicate, soak
    make drunk (with alcoholic drinks)
Word Family

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