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I've found a lot of versions, like:

  • baffled why
  • baffled about why
  • baffled at why
  • baffled by why
  • baffled as to why
  • baffled on why
  • baffled over why

Is there a correct form? Is any of the above wrong?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

All OP's alternatives are acceptable except on (over isn't good, but it's not totally invalid to me).

My vote for the "best" would be "baffled as to why", which Google Books says has 2350 hits for C21, against 1180 for plain baffled why. The others are ..about;301 ..at;143 ..by;232 ..on;8 ..over;31

Per comments below, baffled by accounts for a good proportion of all usages for baffle, but it seems we tend to avoid the alliteration of baffled by why.

I myself am baffled by the etymology of baffle, which seems to have originally meant disgrace, thence through mock to the modern sense of to bewilder, perplex. I also think we tend to use the "passive" past participle more today - we say "He's baffled by it", rather than "It baffles him".

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ngrams is weird. it also says that none of these appeared before 1930, and that just 'baffled' has occurred so much that in comparison all the others have negligeable frequency. looking at examples of just 'baffled' and the others doesn't give me clue. – Mitch May 3 '12 at 19:29
@Mitch Too baffled to go on to say what the writer was baffled <PREP>. – Kris May 3 '12 at 19:54
What does "baffled" mean? – MT_Head May 3 '12 at 20:34
@Mitch: I'm baffled myself. Although I've always quite liked "baffled as to why", I'm surprised Google Books shows it being so much more popular (I kinda thought it was something of a personal preference). The weird thing is that "baffled by" is much more common than "baffled as to" - but presumably we don't like the awkward alliteration of "baffled by why". – FumbleFingers May 3 '12 at 20:36
@MT_Head: From OED - confounded, discomfited, checked or foiled. I would add flummoxed, perplexed, bewildered. – FumbleFingers May 3 '12 at 20:39

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