Examples of enigma in a sentence
Despite the enigma of the singularity, the big bang theory is unquestionably one of the most successful ideas in the history of science. —Tom Yulsman, Astronomy, September 1999
Many scholars call it the ultimate enigma of the Nazi era, indeed perhaps of modern history: How did the Holocaust happen? And why in Germany? —Ralph Blumenthal, New York Times, 10 Jan. 1998
Indeed, the bond that in every individual connects the physiological life and the psychic life—or better the relation existing between the contingence of an individual and the free spirit that assumes it—is the deepest enigma implied in the condition of being human, and this enigma is presented in its most disturbing form in woman. —Simone de Beauvoir, translated and edited by H. M. Parshley, The Second Sex, 1953
To his friends, he was always something of an enigma.
one of the great enigmas of our time
Are you an enigma?
A person who is described as an enigma is a bit of a mystery. You never know what that person is really thinking, or what his or her motives for doing something are. An enigma is not easily understood especially because he or she has a confusing mixture of qualities that seem to be in opposition to one another—for example, the attention-seeking but reclusive musician, or the brilliant lawyer who gets lost on the drive home from the grocery store.
The word enigma originally referred not to people but to words, and specifically to words that formed a riddle or complicated metaphor that tested the listener's or reader's alertness and cleverness. This meaning is clearly connected to the word's history. Enigma comes from a Greek word that means "to speak in riddles."
The word enigma didn't jump from referring to riddles to referring to people. In between those uses, it was (and still is) applied to things that puzzle people. Egypt's meticulously constructed Pyramids of Giza or a theory of quantum physics, for example, might be described as enigmas. In these uses, the meaning is simply a figurative extension of the original "riddle" sense.
Origin and Etymology of enigma
Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigmat-, ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable
First Known Use: 1539
Synonym Discussion of enigma
ENIGMA Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of enigma for English Language Learners
: someone or something that is difficult to understand or explain
ENIGMA Defined for Kids
Definition of enigma for Students
: someone or something that is hard to understand <Why she quit the team is an enigma to me.>
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