puzzle

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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 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

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 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

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

puzzle out

v.
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
References in classic literature ?
If, on the other hand, they have the map, and see us digging at a spot not indicated on it, they will be puzzled, knowing we must have some idea of where the buried city lies.
Twyford had already run upstairs for news of his vanishing nephew, and he received news of him in a way that at once puzzled and reassured him.
Meanwhile Horne Fisher had considerably puzzled everybody with his new tone and attitude.
Then, seeing they still looked puzzled, he added, "It was that toy magnet belonging to your nephew, Mr.
One of them, whom I by no means thought the best, has given us a play, known to all the world, which I am almost ready to think with Zola is the greatest play of modern times; or if it is not so, I should be puzzled to name the modern drama that surpasses "La Morte Civile" of Paolo Giacometti.
This, however, I must own, had not a great deal to do with my liking him so much, and I should be puzzled to account for my passion, as much in his case as in most others.