Definition of cryptic
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
crypticallyplay \ˈkrip-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
cryptic was our Word of the Day on 01/31/2009. Hear the podcast!
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
Recent Examples of cryptic from the Web
And yet, many people still don't know what to make of Monk, whose spontaneous bandstand dances, cryptic silences and swank haberdashery fed unrealistic perceptions.
His words are consistently funny, alive to the sound of language and of course appealingly cryptic.
Earlier in the month, Savage tantalized fans with a cryptic message on Twitter.
The dispatcher noted on her cryptic report that Melinda witnessed Trucks pulling the trigger.
Both of his cryptic tenets had been dramatized by crystal-clear examples.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of cryptic
Late Latin crypticus, from Greek kryptikos, from kryptos
First Known Use: 1620See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of cryptic
CRYPTIC Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of cryptic for English Language Learners
: difficult to understand : having or seeming to have a hidden meaning
CRYPTIC Defined for Kids
Definition of cryptic for Students
: difficult to understand or make sense of He left a cryptic message.
Seen and Heard
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