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Puzzle out   /pˈəzəl aʊt/   Listen
Puzzle out

verb
1.
Find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of.  Synonyms: figure out, lick, solve, work, work out.  "Work out your problems with the boss" , "This unpleasant situation isn't going to work itself out" , "Did you get it?" , "Did you get my meaning?" , "He could not work the math problem"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Puzzle out" Quotes from Famous Books



... to be it's all the more reason why you should continue to help me. Because, very distinctly, I assure you, I'm not. The new things or ever so many of them—are still for me new things; the mysteries and expectations and assumptions still contain an immense element that I've failed to puzzle out. As we've happened, so luckily, to find ourselves again really taking hold together, you must let me, as soon as possible, come to see you; you must give me a good, kind hour. If you refuse it me"—and he addressed himself to her continued reserve—"I shall feel that ...
— The Golden Bowl • Henry James

... means Leigh Hunt's strong point. In this respect, but not otherwise, he may have suggested Skimpole to Charles Dickens. On one of my visits I found him trying to puzzle out the abstruse question of how he should deduct some such sum as thirteen shillings and ninepence from a sovereign. On another occasion I had to pay him a sum of money, L100 or L200, and I wrote him a check for the amount. 'Well,' he said, ...
— Stories of Authors, British and American • Edwin Watts Chubb

... than whom a keener sportsman never holloaed to hounds, and the breeder of one of the best packs for showing sport ever seen, hunted hare, fox, deer, and even polecats, sooner than not keep his darlings doing something; and, while his hounds would puzzle out the faintest scent, there were among the leaders several that, with admirable dash, jumped every gate, disdaining to creep. Some of this stock are still hunting on Exmoor. There are at present several very good M.F.H. ...
— A New Illustrated Edition of J. S. Rarey's Art of Taming Horses • J. S. Rarey

... Robert Cairn sat at his writing-table, endeavouring to puzzle out a solution to the mystery of Ferrara's motive. His reflections served only to confuse ...
— Brood of the Witch-Queen • Sax Rohmer

... to puzzle out where it is. I know. It must be somewhere at the west corner, because that's ...
— Crown and Sceptre - A West Country Story • George Manville Fenn

... grammar, there would be none about the lessons he chose to learn. Indeed, some of the masters began to dread the boy's eager questions, which were sometimes more than they could answer. Scarcely had he begun the study of arithmetic than he made such rapid progress, and wanted to puzzle out so many problems, that the masters were amazed. His mind seemed always eagerly asking for more light, and was ...
— Knights of Art - Stories of the Italian Painters • Amy Steedman

... not been able to puzzle out. According to your notion—and you may have proved it since, for all I know—Locke was not in the showroom during or after the murder. And yet it should have been he who dropped the little particle from the railroad ...
— Ashton-Kirk, Investigator • John T. McIntyre

... year, that checked the plague but almost swept the city out of existence.[2] We must note the founding of the Royal Society in 1660 for the advancement of science, or look to Newton, its most celebrated member, beginning to puzzle out his theory of ...
— The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 12 • Editor-In-Chief Rossiter Johnson

... Jerry, therefore, began to look round for himself. He knew it was imperative on him to do something for a living to help out his good old mother's feeble efforts, and to keep a roof over their two heads. He set his wits to work to puzzle out a way. Without a right arm he was of little or no use in the fishing-boats, which constituted the sole trade of Northbourne. So fishing was out of ...
— The Captain's Bunk - A Story for Boys • M. B. Manwell

... images impressed upon his brain was the reality, and which the work of imagination. A sense of restful thankfulness — the release from some great and terrible fear — had stolen upon him, he scarce knew how or why. He did not wish to think or puzzle out what had befallen him. He was with Gaston once more; surely ...
— In the Days of Chivalry • Evelyn Everett-Green

... anything else. Like knitting, like the work of a copying clerk, it gradually neutralises and sets to sleep the serious activity of the mind. We can think of this or that, lightly and laughingly, as a child thinks, or as we think in a morning dose; we can make puns or puzzle out acrostics, and trifle in a thousand ways with words and rhymes; but when it comes to honest work, when we come to gather ourselves together for an effort, we may sound the trumpet as loud and long as we please; the great barons ...
— Virginibus Puerisque • Robert Louis Stevenson

... ultimate success and distinction for Theron. He had demonstrated clearly enough to himself, during that brief season of unrestrained effulgence, that he had within him the making of a great pulpit orator. He set to work now, with resolute purpose, to puzzle out and master all the principles which underlie this art, and all the tricks that adorn its superstructure. He studied it, fastened his thoughts upon it, talked daily with Alice about it. In the pulpit, addressing ...
— The Damnation of Theron Ware • Harold Frederic

... quite understand what they do want,—they are the same in all histories,—like little children, they get bewildered and frightened in any trouble, and the wisest heads are needed to think for them. It is, indeed, most cruel to make them puzzle out all difficulty for themselves!" ...
— Thelma • Marie Corelli

... we'll have to stick to the road. Anyhow, we left Jake back at the trolley station, and he's probably still there, trying to puzzle out how we got away. And Mr. Holmes ought to be at Tecumseh. Farmer Weeks was to stay in Jericho, so I think we've really found a safe ...
— The Camp Fire Girls on the Farm - Or, Bessie King's New Chum • Jane L. Stewart

... had been busily trying to puzzle out the mystery of the girl's presence here alone. Evidently she came in the most friendly spirit; and thus, quite evidently, her mission, whatever it was, must be very different from that of the invaders who had landed ...
— The Fire People • Ray Cummings

... ashes—for whom indeed the story of the great schism was now but a legend only needing a little less dimness to make it romantic—Miss Wenham had promptly responded by a letter fragrant with the hope that old threads might be taken up. It was a relationship that they must puzzle out together, and she had earnestly sounded the other party to it on the subject of a possible visit. Addie had met her with a definite promise; she would come soon, she would come when free, she would come in ...
— Some Short Stories • Henry James

... serpent: once more, as the reptile writhed, the former painful impression revived: it was like a peep into the lower side of the real world, and again for many days took all sweetness from food and sleep. He wondered at himself indeed, trying to puzzle out the secret of that repugnance, having no particular dread of a snake's bite, like one of his companions, who had put his hand into the mouth of an old garden-god and roused there a sluggish viper. A kind of pity even mingled with his aversion, and he could hardly have killed or injured the animals, ...
— Marius the Epicurean, Volume One • Walter Horatio Pater

... glimpse of a black shoulder or leg, and Colin, whom I kept on the leash, was half-mad with excitement. I had seen all I wanted, and went home with a preoccupied mind. I sat long on Wardlaw's garden-seat, trying to puzzle out the truth of ...
— Prester John • John Buchan

... Northwick sat crying over the paper that Elbridge Newton had pushed under the door that morning. It was limp from the nervous clutch and tremor of her hands, and wet with her tears; but she kept reading her father's letter in it, and trying to puzzle out of it some hope or help. "He must be crazy, he must be crazy," she moaned, more to herself than to Suzette, who sat rigidly and silently by. "He couldn't have been so cruel, if he had been in his right mind; he ...
— The Quality of Mercy • W. D. Howells

... the wheels click inside his head as he tried to puzzle out what use to make of this man. One thing was clear enough: the Lion of Petra was well informed. It was nothing less than fact that on no account could an expedition be undertaken against him for a long time. And it was fair, therefore, to presume that in his Petra fastness ...
— The Lion of Petra • Talbot Mundy

... The post-office alone, trying to puzzle out by myself the meaning of Lady Saffren Waldon's pursuit of us, and of her friendship with the Germans, and her probable connection with Georges Coutlass and his riff-raff. I had not gone far either on my stroll or with the problem—perhaps two hundred yards down a grassy track that they had told ...
— The Ivory Trail • Talbot Mundy

... handwriting so gentlemanly as to be almost unreadable. Every one crowded round the eldest son to see it opened—and out fell five ten-crown notes. "Mercy on us!" they cried in amazement, and "Can it be for us?" The next thing was to puzzle out what was written in the letter. And who should that turn out to be from but—no other than Peer's father, though he did not say it in so many words. "Be good to the boy," the letter said. "You will receive fifty crowns from me every half-year. See that he gets plenty ...
— The Great Hunger • Johan Bojer

... there are a few little remnants which are not quite so useful as they once were, and which sometimes cause trouble. But for the most part, all we have to do is to look long and carefully enough at any organ or part of our bodies, to be able to puzzle out just what it is or was intended to do, and why it has the shape and size ...
— A Handbook of Health • Woods Hutchinson

... and he probably would have laughed aloud had not the picture somehow made him think of something, he couldn't just remember what. A dim idea seemed to be trying to break into his mind but couldn't find the right door. In his effort to puzzle out what it was the elephant made him think of, Jerry entirely forgot the large red apple and ...
— The Circus Comes to Town • Lebbeus Mitchell

... though interesting enough conversation in which his project had never got past his tongue. Through no cowardice or dread, he had simply not been able to broach it. He stared back at the ship when he paused on the crest of the hill, trying to puzzle out what was struggling for recognition in him. Dimly it began to dawn on him that there are only two ways for a man to live fully. The first is by being rooted to a spot that is everything to him, by which he makes his bread, ...
— Secret Bread • F. Tennyson Jesse

... his reading was disturbed by the boisterous chorus at the piano, and the shrieks of laughter from the coon-can set, he tucked the volume under his arm and slipped out of the room as noiselessly as possible. He could rest at peace up in his "cock loft" and endeavour to puzzle out some means of reaching the land of the Golden Umbrella—even if he worked his passage as a cabin steward. In passing the door of Mrs. Malone's den, some strange, unaccountable impulse constrained him to knock. Yes; he suddenly made ...
— The Road to Mandalay - A Tale of Burma • B. M. Croker

... preceding the golf tournament and the football game with Westvale. On account of the latter there had been only a half hour of light practice for the two squads, and Joel at half past four had gone to his room to study. But when it came time to puzzle out some problems in geometry Joel found that his paper was used up, and, rather than borrow of his neighbors, he pulled on his cap and started for the ...
— The Half-Back • Ralph Henry Barbour

... a little painting here; but, after all, I don't seem to take as much interest in composing pictures as in trying to puzzle out ...
— The Chauffeur and the Chaperon • C. N. Williamson

... to puzzle out the clue, Which must be skill, or craft, or luck in you: Unless, indeed, ...
— Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress, and Other Poems • Christina Rossetti

... Here is the first note, the one you found. Puzzle out the musical notes by their alphabetical nomenclature from the key I just gave you on the scrap of paper there; then hold the note up to the light, and read the other letters from the under side. Try it with both notes, and tell ...
— The Crevice • William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander

... a high-school course in Latin can experiment with Virgil, turning it either into couplets like Pope's Iliad or into the more appropriate meter used by Longfellow in his Evangeline. With a dictionary and a literal translation it is easy enough to puzzle out Horace, who is more modern in his thought and who is, in a way, the ancestor of our present vers-de-societe writers. There is also this advantage in the translation of Horace: One finds a chance to compare his translation with the work of many others, for Horace has ...
— Rhymes and Meters - A Practical Manual for Versifiers • Horatio Winslow

... than she had dreamed, and told long stories which showed her to be a child of great imagination. But all these dreams and continuations of dreams Aunt Frances wrote down the first thing the next morning, and, with frequent references to a thick book full of hard words, she tried her best to puzzle out from them exactly what kind of little girl Elizabeth ...
— Understood Betsy • Dorothy Canfield

... to go. No doubt he felt unusually irritable. "By the holy smoke!" he exclaimed. "I wish there wasn't a baby under the Canopy!"—and while I was trying to puzzle out and piece together all these darkling hints and inferences, the Old Squire came up stairs and after a word with Addison and Gram, told me that I would have to rig up, get on old Sol's back and take my first turn riding for Dr. Cummings. That ...
— When Life Was Young - At the Old Farm in Maine • C. A. Stephens

... my temper glowering in the straining leash, I revolved her conduct and tried to puzzle out its meaning. It is clear, thought I, that she does not care for me as people about to marry usually profess to care. Then, does she ...
— The Plum Tree • David Graham Phillips

... woman? Impossible to tell till I overtake it. The February fog deepens the darkness, and the faces one passes are indistinguishable. As for the numbers of the houses, no one thinks of looking for them. If you know the quarter you count doors from the corner, or try to puzzle out the familiar outline of a balcony or a pediment; if you are in a strange street, you must ask at the nearest tobacconist's—for, as for finding a policeman, a yard off you couldn't ...
— Fighting France - From Dunkerque to Belport • Edith Wharton

... Dick, it's too hot, to-night, and I'm too tired and sleepy to try and puzzle out your conundrums, so if you want me to understand what you're about you had better speak out. What ...
— Hunting the Skipper - The Cruise of the "Seafowl" Sloop • George Manville Fenn

... lodge; and there were left only a few frightened dogs whose noses had already told them everything, a few fishermen who watched and listened, and one Indian boy with a long bow in his hand and an arrow ready on the string, who trailed away with a little girl at his side trying to puzzle out the track of one wolf that left a drop of blood here and there on the ...
— Northern Trails, Book I. • William J. Long

... perhaps might shame your admirers into better behaviour, and thereby be the means of furthering the interests of sport." This rebuke means that when a gallop is suddenly stopped by hounds losing the scent of their fox and being obliged to puzzle out the line, the ladies of the hunt should remain silent, should pull up and not impede the huntsman who will do his best to aid his hounds in recovering the lost scent. Mr. Paget's remark about the lady who led the field ...
— The Horsewoman - A Practical Guide to Side-Saddle Riding, 2nd. Ed. • Alice M. Hayes

... wretched economics. If I had a son who wanted to go into the grocery business, I should take care that he was well grounded in the principles of sound bookkeeping and prudence. But I should not fail to tell him the story of the Harrison Avenue grocer, hoping that he would puzzle out ...
— The Promised Land • Mary Antin

... newsboys, little coz, and they wouldn't be flattered by our comparison. They are yelling what, in United States, would be 'extra!' I'll get a paper and see if I can puzzle out some of the French," and he strolled down to intercept ...
— Lucile Triumphant • Elizabeth M. Duffield

... We will suppose now that it is a summer evening, that Daddy is seated smoking in his chair, that the Lady is listening somewhere near, and that the three are in a tumbled heap upon the bear-skin before the empty fireplace trying to puzzle out the little problems of their tiny lives. When three children play with a new thought it is like three kittens with a ball, one giving it a pat and another a pat, as they chase it from point to point. Daddy would interfere ...
— Danger! and Other Stories • Arthur Conan Doyle

... magically all harsh details beneath the starry vault—she slipped out to the summit of the ridge in the big pasture, climbing lightly, with the springy ease born of the vigor her nineteen outdoor years had stored in the strong young body. She wanted to be alone, to puzzle out what the coming of this man meant to her. Had he intended anything by that last drawling remark of his in the store? Why was it that his careless, half insulting familiarity set the blood leaping through her like wine? He lured her to the sex duel, then trampled ...
— Brand Blotters • William MacLeod Raine

... thoughts"? I have such big thoughts sometimes, especially when I sit in the dark. I send them out like strange birds, all over the world,—up, up, everywhere,—but they never come back to me again,' finished Jill mournfully; 'if they build nests I never know it: I just sit and puzzle out things, like poor ...
— Uncle Max • Rosa Nouchette Carey

... an engagement to tour for a limited number of weeks. If so, she gazes in despair at her small wardrobe, trying to puzzle out three costumes to be used in the play, for actresses going on tour have usually to provide ...
— Women Workers in Seven Professions • Edith J. Morley

... puzzle out the trail for some distance up the mountains from this point, but finally lost it on a bare rock ridge which thrust up well toward the peak of the mountain between two snow-fields. Skookie, stooping down and hunting like a dog among the half-bare ...
— The Young Alaskans • Emerson Hough

... fitting remark and went out and home to his rooms—there to spend most of the ensuing evening in trying to puzzle out the various mysteries of the day. He got no more light on them then, and he was still exercising his brains on them when he went to the inquest next morning—to find the Coroner's court packed to the doors with an assemblage of townsfolk just as curious ...
— The Paradise Mystery • J. S. Fletcher

... Gradually there spread over him a vague sensation of discomfort, of apprehension even. Still, when he thought about her it seemed impossible to connect anything sinister with a personality so charming, with a disposition so amiable. No, it was beyond him; it was useless his attempting to puzzle out the problem. Only time could explain it. As they had met at the Savoy, so sooner or later they would meet again. He knew it was useless to try and forget her; that was impossible, but, in the ...
— War-time Silhouettes • Stephen Hudson

... running smack into them, that just before they reached the road, although now out of the heavier woods, they had stopped and were talking together more excitedly than ever. Something had happened, Jerry realized at once, but he could not puzzle out what it was, although he looked and listened as intently as they seemed to be doing. He was about to give it up in disgust, when he became conscious of a queer droning noise, as of a swarm of bees, or a distant threshing machine. Strangely, the sound did not seem to be coming from the woods or ...
— The Boy Scouts of the Air on Lost Island • Gordon Stuart

... thinks that stained glass and an organ are sinful. I grant you that there is a certain fairness in trying the blackguard and the religionist by different standards. Where the pretension is higher, the test may justly be more severe. But I say it is unfair to puzzle out with diligence the one or two good things in the character of a reckless scamp, and to refuse moderate attention to the many good points about a weak, narrow-minded, and uncharitable good person. I ask for charity in the estimating of all human characters,—even ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 10, No. 58, August, 1862 • Various

... what is the subject," said she, "for I have sometimes incurred great displeasure from members of your brotherhood by being too obtuse to puzzle out the purport of their productions. It is so difficult, you know, to compress and define a character or story, and make it patent at a glance, within the narrow scope attainable by sculpture! Indeed, I fancy it is still the ordinary habit with sculptors, ...
— The Marble Faun, Volume I. - The Romance of Monte Beni • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... be an investigating investigator and solve the mystery. Watch slippery Judy, the dauntless detective of Madison Hall. Leave it to her to puzzle out the puzzle." ...
— Jane Allen: Right Guard • Edith Bancroft

... wretched about her sister's confession than she was willing to let Mollie know. She thought if Mollie could once get to sleep, she could then puzzle out some method by which they could meet this debt. For fifty dollars did look like an immense sum to the two ...
— The Automobile Girls At Washington • Laura Dent Crane

... convent walls on the cliffs above bathed in the early sunlight. I never failed to take an almost childish interest in the signals which passed between the "Hollander" and the fleet of vessels whose sails whitened the track to and from the Crimea, trying to puzzle out the language these children of the ocean spoke in their hurried course, and wondering whether any, or what sufficiently important thing could happen which would warrant their stopping on their ...
— Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands • Mary Seacole

... desk trying to puzzle out the enigma of the night. The more he thought upon it, the further he seemed from any solution. There was the perplexing behaviour of Mrs. Oliver herself. She had been troubled, greatly troubled, to find her ...
— The Broken Road • A. E. W. Mason

... I set my brain to puzzle out some way of escaping this horrible infliction. Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? I took the Colonel's hint, and pretended to take refuge in sleep, and at last, I believe, I dozed off. It must have been in my dreams ...
— The Passenger from Calais • Arthur Griffiths

... his catalogues, study his famous collections, make his own bibliographical notes, or run off here and there by 'bus or train in quest of books for a customer; he could swallow down his Greek verbs or puzzle out his French for Barbier in the intervals of business; the humbler matters of the ...
— The History of David Grieve • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... So at last I said I was coming out to thank you for what you did to save me, Jed. I could hardly believe it then; I can scarcely believe it now. It was too much for any man to do for another. And she said to talk the whole puzzle out with you. She seems to have all the confidence on earth in your judgment, Jed. She is as willing to leave a decision to you, apparently, as you profess to be to leave one to your wooden prophet up on the shelf ...
— Shavings • Joseph C. Lincoln



Words linked to "Puzzle out" :   answer, break, strike, reason, work out, understand, resolve, guess, infer, riddle



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