Can I use the word "perplexed" in academic writing? If not, would you please suggest another word?

Example sentence: When numerical examples provide different results, audience will be left perplexed on how the issue is solved.

  • 2
    Why couldn't you? It's proper English, not informal, and not rude or a colloquialism. Is there a reason you believe it to be inappropriate? May 23, 2016 at 11:11
  • Context please, eg sample sentence. May 23, 2016 at 11:18
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas I usually search the literature I have if I am not sure about a specific word. However, I only found one academic article in my database that used the word "perplexed", hence, I wasn't sure of using it.
    – mallet
    May 23, 2016 at 11:26
  • @MaxWilliams I added an example sentence to the question.
    – mallet
    May 23, 2016 at 11:27
  • 1
    You can also leave the "audience" out and say "Examples which yield different results will be perplexing". That is, they will perplex.
    – TimR
    May 23, 2016 at 12:15

2 Answers 2


While you can use perplexed or confused (or other synonyms), you may wish to consider terms such as un/clear or un/certain as well. These are more objective, in that they simply carry the meaning of a lack of understanding (clarity, certainty), and they thus lend themselves well to academic writing. Choose your words around whatever term you select, though - an audience may be left with a lack of clarity or understanding is less judgemental than could confuse an audience.


Yes, I think one can use perplex in academic writing but to make it sound better you can use confuse.

More than using a different word, I think you can change the sentence construction to make it sound more academic.

"Numerical examples providing different results can be confusing and would make issue too complex to be solved."

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