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 cryptically (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

The suspect also reportedly made a cryptic and possibly incriminating statement to a witness when asked about the crime. CBS News, "Podcast spotlights Mississippi double murder – can new DNA technology solve the cold case?," 29 June 2019 Instead, Robbins and Barbot floated their vocals barely a millimeter above the level of the guitars, burying the cryptic lyrics in the overall attack. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "At the 9:30 Club, Jawbox’s sound is both bristlingly contemporary and an echo of the past," 29 June 2019 There were rumors, cryptic statements, seeming bafflement and frustration publicly from San Antonio — but only characteristic silence from Leonard. New York Times, "The Raptors’ Journey to the Top of the N.B.A.," 14 June 2019 Following some fairly cryptic teasers, Bentley has released two new photos and a video of the upcoming third-gen Flying Spur that show it with little camo. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Bentley Flying Spur Debuts June 11 with Rear-Wheel Steering," 29 May 2019 Now, Tyler’s releasing some even more cryptic imagery that builds on this newfound aesthetic. Vogue, "Tyler, the Creator (and His Plastic Clones) Can’t Stop Wearing Suits," 23 May 2019 This prompted Amy to write a very cryptic message about Matt and the farm on Instagram. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Little People, Big World' Star Amy Roloff Posts Cryptic Comment About Matt and Roloff Farms," 23 May 2019 Now, a measure passed by state lawmakers this year could aid voters by revealing some of the top donors or organizations behind the cryptic groups. Joseph O’sullivan, The Seattle Times, "‘Gray money’: New Washington law to lift the cloak on PAC funders," 19 May 2019 Another day, another cryptic social media puzzle to solve. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Halsey Blacked out Her Instagram and Twitter Accounts," 2 May 2019

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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Statistics for cryptic

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for cryptic

The first known use of cryptic was in 1620

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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 cryptically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on cryptic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cryptic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cryptic

Spanish Central: Translation of cryptic

Nglish: Translation of cryptic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cryptic for Arabic Speakers

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