Etymology
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puzzle (v.)

1590s, pusle "bewilder, confound, perplex with difficult problems or questions," possibly frequentative of pose (v.) in obsolete sense of "perplex" (compare nuzzle from nose). To puzzle (something) out "resolve or discover by long cogitation or careful investigation" is by 1781. Related: Puzzled; puzzling.

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puzzle (n.)

c. 1600, "state of being puzzled," from puzzle (v.); meaning "perplexing question, difficult problem" is from 1650s; that of "a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity" is from 1814. Puzzle-ring "number of small rings intertwined inseparably with one another that can be arranged as a single ring" is by 1877.

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puzzler (n.)

"one who or that which perplexes," 1650s, agent noun from puzzle (v.).

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puzzling (adj.)

"bewildering, perplexing," 1660s, present-participle adjective from puzzle (v.). Related: Puzzlingly.

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bepuzzle (v.)
"perplex," 1590s, from be- + puzzle (v.). Related: Bepuzzled; bepuzzling.
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puzzlement (n.)

"bewilderment, state of being puzzled," by 1802, from puzzle (v.) + -ment. From 1842 as "a thing that puzzles" (compare puzzler). In the former sense Richardson used puzzledom (1748).

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brain-teaser (n.)
"difficult puzzle or problem," 1893, from brain (n.) + agent noun from tease (v.).
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jigsaw (n.)

also jig-saw, vertical reciprocating saw, 1855, American English, from jig with its notion of "rapid up-and-down motion" + saw (n.1). It was largely displaced by the later band-saws. Jigsaw puzzle first recorded 1906; originally one with pieces cut by a jigsaw. Earlier was dissected map (or picture), 1807, "map or picture mounted on board and divided into more or less irregular parts, to be joined together as a puzzle."

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tangram (n.)
Chinese geometric puzzle, 1864, said to be an arbitrary formation based on anagram, etc. First element perhaps Chinese t'an "to extend," or t'ang, commonly used in Cantonese for "Chinese." Some suggest it is the name of the inventor, "but no such person is known to Chinese scholars" [OED]. Another theory involves the Tanka, an outcast aboriginal people of southern China, and Western sailors who discovered the puzzle from their Tanka girlfriends. Perhaps from an obscure sense of tram. The Chinese name is Ch'i ch'iao t'u "seven ingenious plan."
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riddle (v.2)

1570s, "to pose as a riddle, speak in riddles," from riddle (n.1). Earlier it meant "to puzzle" (over something), early 15c. Transitive sense of "to interpret or solve a riddle" is from 1580s (as in riddle me this). Related: Riddled; riddler; riddling.

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