Puzzle, perplex, mystify, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound are comparable when they mean to disturb and baffle mentally or throw into mental confusion.
The first three words express various mental reactions to what is intricate, complicated, or involved.
Puzzle implies such complication or intricacy that the mind finds it exceedingly, often distressingly, difficult to understand or to solve.
Perplex adds to puzzle the implications of worry and uncertainty, especially about reaching a decision on a course of action or the right solution of a personal problem.
To mystify is to perplex, sometimes by playing upon one’s credulity, but more often by concealing important facts or factors or by obscuring issues.
Bewilder often implies perplexity, but it stresses a confused state of mind that makes clear thinking and complete comprehension practically impossible.
Distract implies strong agitation arising from divergent or conflicting considerations or interests.
The last three words imply less mental disturbance and distress than some of the preceding terms, but they heighten the implication of bafflement and mental confusion.
Nonplus implies blankness of mind or utter inability to find anything worth saying or doing.
Confound (see also MISTAKE ) implies mental confusion, but it stresses the implication either of mental paralysis or of profound astonishment.
Dumbfound tends to replace confound in casual and oral use. Sometimes dumbfound so strongly implies astonishment that it is used in place of astound .