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1. A puzzle game consisting of intricate and complex pieces that fit together in a specific manner, especially of multiple boxes that fit inside one another. My uncle gave me this Chinese puzzle for Christmas, and I still haven't been able to solve it!
2. Any problem, question, or situation that is especially complex or difficult to understand. Dealing with growing income inequality is truly a Chinese puzzle for lawmakers today. I can't understand a thing about how this engine works, it's like a dang Chinese puzzle!
puzzle out (something)
To determine, clarify, or realize something through careful thought or consideration. They're still puzzling out how to get the system back online without losing any data. It took me a while, but I think I was able to puzzle out the solution to this riddle.
puzzle over (someone or something)
To think about or consider something, usually at length. After puzzling over the experiment all day, I think I've figured out where we've gone wrong.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
puzzle over someone or something
to consider or ponder. I can't puzzle out the mean—someone or something. Anne is a bit strange. I've spent some time puzzling over her. While I was puzzling over why she had slapped me, she did it again.
puzzle something out
to figure something out. It took me a while to puzzle it out. I can't puzzle out the meaning of this argument.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Clarify or solve something, as in It took him a while to puzzle out the significance of the statement. [Late 1700s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To come to a conclusion or find an answer, especially as the result of a careful thought process: I puzzled out the identity of the murderer before finishing the novel. The answer escaped me at first, but I finally puzzled the problem out.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.