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Chinese puzzle

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!
See also: 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.
See also: out, puzzle

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.
See also: over, puzzle
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.
See also: over, puzzle

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.
See also: out, puzzle
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

puzzle out

Clarify or solve something, as in It took him a while to puzzle out the significance of the statement. [Late 1700s]
See also: out, puzzle
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.

puzzle out

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.
See also: out, puzzle
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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
challenge for implementing EP, then, is to successfully convey the importance of puzzling, and to give enough time for a question framed as a "problem" to transmute into genuine puzzled curiosity.
This was done via a single question on a standard needs analysis form (NA) which asked learners what puzzled them about learning English and business English in particular.
Learners' puzzles gravitated towards vocabulary, speaking, and pronunciation and, overall, speaking emerged as the most puzzled aspect.
PUZZLED: SECRETS AND CLUES FROM A LIFE IN WORDS, BY DAVID ASTLE (PROFILE BOOKS, PS14.99) QUIRKY, humorous, and oh so taxing, David Astle takes us on a mind-bending journey into the perplexing world of puzzles.
Puzzled is, however, more than a how-to guide to solving a crossword.
Dear Dr Maths, My daughter was asked to do this logic puzzle for homework and we are really puzzled! Can you help?
A MERSEYSIDE maths teacher will stop perplexing his pupils this half term to be puzzled himself.
The historical question that puzzled Needham for many years was "Why did modern science not develop in China?" In the present article, the author intends to share his teaching experience concerning this question, which is referred to as Needham's Puzzle.
We commonly say that something is "a puzzle," or we are "puzzled" by something.