enigmatic

adjective
enig·​mat·​ic | \ˌe-(ˌ)nig-ˈma-tik also ˌē-(ˌ)nig- \
variants: or less commonly enigmatical \ ˌe-​(ˌ)nig-​ˈma-​ti-​kəl \

Definition of enigmatic 

: of, relating to, or resembling an enigma : mysterious

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Other Words from enigmatic

enigmatically \ ˌe-​(ˌ)nig-​ˈma-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for enigmatic

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 Origin of Enigmatic Isn't a Mystery

When it comes to things that aren't clearly understandable, you have a wide range of word choices, including dark, enigmatic, cryptic, and equivocal. Of these, dark is the most sinister, implying an imperfect or clouded revelation, often with ominous overtones. Enigmatic (which traces back to Greek ainissesthai, meaning "to speak in riddles") emphasizes a puzzling, mystifying quality, whereas cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. Equivocal is the best choice for language that is left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading.

Examples of enigmatic in a Sentence

Space seethes with an enormous enigmatic energy, and, each second, trillions of cubic light-years more of it materializes from nothingness. — Bob Berman, Astronomy, November 2007 You'll recognize them by their enigmatic smile and faraway look as they jog, skate, commute, or wander the aisles of the supermarket. Consumer Reports, December 2005 Despite all that has been written—and surmised—about him, Bill Gates remains the enigmatic ringmaster of the digital circus. — J. D. Reed, People, 15 Mar. 1999 the discovery of the abandoned ship in mid ocean remains one of the most enigmatic episodes in seafaring history the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile
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Recent Examples on the Web

The unique form that appears to be suspended from Kom_i's body expresses the mysterious embodiment of the enigmatic princess who looks human but is not. Billboard Japan, Billboard, "Watch J-Pop Group Wednesday Campanella's New Video, 'The Bamboo Princess'," 6 July 2018 That big picture view of the Maya is letting archaeologists ask bigger questions about this still-enigmatic civilization. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Fortresses, farmlands of the Maya emerge from massive LiDAR survey," 2 Feb. 2018 Given great access by the family, Macdonald goes deep into the Houston mythos, even if the woman at the center remains somewhat enigmatic. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "In revealing documentary 'Whitney,' a superstar's life unravels," 5 July 2018 Now, a consortium of 54 scientists from 29 institutions has assembled the first complete koala genome, unlocking some of the animal’s most enigmatic secrets. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Newly Mapped Koala Genome Unlocks Secrets of Marsupial’s Diet, Susceptibility to Chlamydia," 3 July 2018 Sheila Munyiva, actor and filmmaker As Rafiki’s enigmatic co-star, Munyiva has the kind of rare beauty and talent that signal big things are to come. Mosha Lundström Halbert, Vogue, "The Kenyan Cool Girl’s Guide to Nairobi," 2 July 2018 After a few teasing intro shots, including the gargoyle dancer in the Cour Napoleon and a brief glimpse of Delacroix’s Apollo Slays Python, music’s most famous couple appear in a slow tracking reveal in front of the world’s most enigmatic smile. Peter Mikelbank, PEOPLE.com, "Inside Beyoncé and JAY-Z's 'Apes—': A Guide to All the Art in the Epic Music Video," 20 June 2018 Although Conte has looked a disgruntled figure on the touchline of late and a shadow of the enigmatic character of last season, Giroud remains a very good acquisition. SI.com, "Football Pundit Believes Antonio Conte 'Did Not Push' for Olivier Giroud Signing," 7 Feb. 2018 Such wanton violence probably reflects the state of mind of Mr Shekau, an enigmatic figure known through videos of his rambling monologues. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enigmatic.' 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 enigmatic

1609, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for enigmatic

see enigma

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Statistics for enigmatic

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for enigmatic

The first known use of enigmatic was in 1609

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More Definitions for enigmatic

enigmatic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of enigmatic

: full of mystery and difficult to understand

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