It struck me today what would be the word for confused people. One of my friends is always confused in her daily life, she just can't decide what to do. If I call her, saying "you're a confused person" then it sounds more general. I am just wondering is there any single word for these kind of people?

closed as general reference by Hugo, Matt E. Эллен, JoseK, Mitch, yoozer8 Nov 17 '11 at 18:25

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I have googled it but couldn't find anything :) i am sorry if this question falls under general reference category :) – Abid Nov 17 '11 at 6:10
  • 3
    Don't use Google, use a dictionary to look up synonyms: abash, addle, amaze, astonish, baffle, becloud, bedevil, befuddle, bemuse, cloud, clutter, complicate, confound, darken, daze, demoralize, discomfit, discompose, disconcert, discountenance, disorient, distract, embarrass, faze, fluster, fog, frustrate, fuddle, involve, lead astray, mess up*, misinform, mislead, mortify, muddle, mystify, nonplus, obscure, perplex, perturb, puzzle, rattle, render uncertain, shame, stir up, stump, throw off, throw off balance, trouble, unhinge, unsettle, upset, worry... – Hugo Nov 17 '11 at 7:45
  • @Hugo, onelook's reverse dictionary can be useful, too... on a lighter note what about sempre-flabbergasted or perma-befuddled? – Unreason Nov 17 '11 at 8:54
  • 2
    Not being able to decide what to do is not, in and of itself, a sign of confusion. – Marthaª Nov 17 '11 at 17:46

Clueless. It's difficult to come up with a much better definition that the description in your question, but this one fits:

clueless, adjective. Unknowing; utterly bewildered by life and events.

(Not to be confused with the movie "Clueless," whose protagonist actually was not. Clueless, that is...)

  • 2
    This answer showed up in the review tab as "low quality". Is there any way you can improve it from a single hyperlinked word? – Hugo Nov 17 '11 at 7:47
  • Heh; I was in the middle of expanding my answer when I got into an extended phone conversation – Gnawme Nov 17 '11 at 17:36

I think there is no big mystery here. True if you say

You are confused.

That implies transitional state, a state that has a specific duration. However, if you say

You are easily confused.

The this is a characteristic and you can use it to describe someones character (as permanent as it gets).

Finally, a common word for a person who is having problems deciding is indecisive.

  • +1 for indecisive, specifically because the OP states that the friend "can't decide what to do." – Josh Dec 30 '13 at 18:17

I would called such a person an addlepate. Merriam-Webster unhelpfully defines that as one who is addle-pated, which it then defines here as someone who is mixed up or confused. Addled is shorter if you want an adjective.

This term is nicely archaic and not derogatory, so you can fairly safely use it of your friends.

  • but, isn't it still missing the requested sense of permanence? – Unreason Nov 17 '11 at 8:56
  • @Unreason, Perhaps. Addled is sometimes used as a semi-euphemism for drunk but I think being addlepated is as permanent a state of affairs as being confused, perhaps even more so. – Brian Hooper Nov 17 '11 at 9:04

Someone who is confused because they are hesitant or unable to make a decision, given a set of options to select from, could be called dithering, irresolute or perhaps a vacillator. Of course, obtaining the options to select from may be a similarly difficult task for this person.


A state of confusion and being unable to decide what to do are different, I think. If the primary characteristic that you're trying to label concerns making decisions, then I'd agree with Unreason, indecisive is probably appropriate. But I'm not sure people without specific medical conditions would realistically be permanently confused. Some people are more prone to confusion, or to being overwhelmed. Maybe detached? Maybe disengaged? Or perhaps *aloof?


Addleminded or scatterbrained.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.