TNQDE: Baffle, Baffle

Have you ever had to use a word over and over for some reason and found yourself suddenly giggling because it doesn’t look like a word anymore? Baffle. Baffle, baffle, baffle. Bafflebafflebafflebafflebaffle… Yeah. That phenomenon is called semantic satiation. Today’s word is brought to you by reactive inhibition due to rapid repetition.


I usually think of “baffle” as meaning more or less “confuse” or “dumbfound.” It has a less common connotation meaning “impede.” Isn’t that wonderful? Of course to confuse someone is fairly effective in tripping them up at times, so it just works for me that there’s a word to bring the ideas together.

What I love ever more, however, are the origins the AHCD proposes for “baffle.” The history isn’t entirely clear, but the AHCD suggests that the word is a blend of the Scottish Gaelic bauchle (to denounce) and the French bafouer (to ridicule). So there’s another idea to throw into the mix. You mock someone, which gets in their way, which ultimately leads to their confusion.

Lovely, rich word, isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.