cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Definition of cryptic

1 : secret, occult
2a : having or seeming to have a hidden or ambiguous meaning : mysterious cryptic messages cryptic prophecies
b : marked by an often perplexing brevity cryptic marginal notes
3 : serving to conceal cryptic coloration in animals also : exhibiting cryptic coloration cryptic animals
4 : not recognized a cryptic infection
5 : employing cipher or code

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Other Words from cryptic

cryptically \ ˈkrip-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for cryptic

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

The Mysterious Origins of Cryptic

The history of "cryptic" starts with "kryptein," a Greek word meaning "to hide." Can you uncover other "kryptein" relatives in English? Not surprisingly, crypt, meaning "underground chamber," is one. The element "krypton" would be another correct guess, and so would "apocrypha," which can mean "writings of dubious authenticity." "Kryptein" also gave us several words having to do with secret codes, such as "cryptogram" ("a communication in cipher or code") and "cryptography" ("the coding and decoding of secret messages"). And, in fact, something "cryptic" can sometimes seem as if written in code.

Examples of cryptic in a Sentence

… his hectic characters either communicate in choppy or cryptic exchanges or rattle on in breathless recitations full of contradictions and asides. — Donna Seaman, Booklist, 15 Mar. 1994 Since Hughes's poems contained neither Eliot's footnotes nor Ezra Pound's cryptic orientalism, many critics and editors assumed the poet unintelligent and his work raw or, at best, slight. — Rita Dove, New York Times Book Review, 9 Oct. 1988 The remark seemed cryptic to Philip, but when he heard her say it two or three times to different persons, and found that it aroused hearty agreement, he came to the conclusion that it was only obscure to his own intelligence. — W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, 1915 His instructions were cryptic. He said only to wait until we felt certain the answer was clear. puzzled by the cryptic e-mail message left on his computer
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Recent Examples on the Web Rodgers did make a cryptic social media post recently. Steve Megargee, Star Tribune, 26 July 2021 Following the announcement of his retirement after 50 years in fashion in a rather cryptic Instagram post in January 2020, Gaultier revealed that his label would live on via seasonal collaborations. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 July 2021 Blackpink took to Twitter last night (June 14) to post a cryptic message, one that instantly had fans freaking out. Hugh Mcintyre, Forbes, 15 June 2021 The woman told an officer her daughter, who was staying at a Cascade Crossing hotel, posted a cryptic message on Facebook. John Benson, cleveland, 9 June 2021 Leonard was oddly cryptic and disappeared in San Antonio. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, 28 June 2021 Her caption's a little cryptic, too: 'New Life, New York, Re-Invention... Health.com, 15 June 2021 Irving is addicted to being cryptic, and the Celtics brass speaks only in generalities about what changed his mind about Boston. BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2021 Musk, with his often cryptic Twitter posts that can move billions, has become a Svengali-like character in the world of crypto. Katie Greifeld, Fortune, 19 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cryptic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cryptic

1620, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for cryptic

borrowed from Late Latin crypticus "hidden," borrowed from Late Greek kryptikós "obscuring" (Greek kryptikôs "secretly"), from kryptós "hidden, secret" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at crypt

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Time Traveler for cryptic

Time Traveler

The first known use of cryptic was in 1620

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Dictionary Entries Near cryptic

Crypteroniaceae

cryptic

cryptic species

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Statistics for cryptic

Last Updated

29 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cryptic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cryptic. Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for cryptic

cryptic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of cryptic

: difficult to understand : having or seeming to have a hidden meaning

cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Kids Definition of cryptic

: difficult to understand or make sense of He left a cryptic message.

cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Medical Definition of cryptic

1 : serving to conceal cryptic coloration in animals
2 : not recognized a cryptic infection cryptic cases of lead poisoning

Other Words from cryptic

cryptically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on cryptic

Nglish: Translation of cryptic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cryptic for Arabic Speakers

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