Definition of cryptic
- cryptic marginal notes
- cryptic coloration in animals
- cryptic animals
- a cryptic infection
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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
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 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.
First Known Use: 1620See Words from the same year
: difficult to understand : having or seeming to have a hidden meaning
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