Printable Version
Pronunciation: kên-fæwnd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: The past tense of confind? No, this word has nothing to do with find. It means 1. To frustrate and baffle, profoundly surprise and confuse (someone), as 'the low revenue figures confounded economists'. 2. Worsen, aggravate, as 'to confound a problem with mistakes'. 3. Mix up, as 'confound fact with fiction'. 4. To prove wrong, defeat, disprove, as 'to confound expectations'. 5. (Mild expletive) Darn, dang, as 'Confound you!'

Notes: Today's contributor likes to compare words with similar meanings. He compared this word with confuse. Confuse is a milder version of confound: less surprise, less confusion. It does not imply an end result, as "to prove wrong". It does have several relatives: confounder, confoundable, and confoundedness.

In Play: Here is a sentence demonstrating the difference between confuse and confound: "I think your lecture will not only confuse your students but confound them." Confound may be used in other services: "Confound it! The senator has confounded his crime by lying about it under oath."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Anglo-Norman confundre, the descendant of Latin confundere "to mix together, confuse", comprising com- "(together) with" + fundere "to pour". Latin inherited fundere from Proto-Indo-European gheu- "to pour", source also of English gust, gush, and geyser. The last was borrowed from Icelandic Geysir, the name of a hot spring in Iceland. The name built from geysa "to gush". Gheu- turned up in ancient Greek as khein "to pour". A foundry is where molten metals are melted and founded into molds. (Not to confound the issue, let's show our gratitude to George Wray for recommending today's semantically, phonologically, and historically interesting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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