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

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 How to pronounce enigmatically (audio) \ 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

Led by the extremely enigmatic Keith Raniere, Catherine can’t help but shake the feeling there’s more than meets the eye with the self-help organization. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Lifetime Is Making a NXIVM Sex Cult Movie After Founder Keith Raniere's Conviction," 1 July 2019 Spend the day perusing works by the likes of Raymond Loewy, Rick Guidice, and Tom Sachs, or get lost in Cristina de Middel's enigmatic photo series, The Afronauts. Laurel Benedum, ELLE Decor, "Luxury Design Goes to Space at SFMOMA's New Exhibition," 23 July 2019 Damien Chazelle’s feature starring Ryan Gosling as an enigmatic Neil Armstrong; and a talk by Noah Petro, a NASA scientist. Laurel Graeber, New York Times, "Apollo 11 Anniversary: How to Celebrate This Weekend," 18 July 2019 Social media, of course, chimed in with amusement and an utter lack of surprise at the enigmatic rapper’s antics. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "Fans have spotted André 3000 playing the flute 'at least a dozen' times around Philadelphia," 16 July 2019 The whole thing got the Shane Dawson documentary treatment (fittingly, Jake Paul was the subject of Dawson's following YouTube deep dive) and rocketed Mongeau from enigmatic Storytime YouTuber to Public Internet Enemy #1. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "This Is What Happens When You Play 21 Questions With Tana Mongeau," 15 July 2019 Led by the extremely enigmatic Keith Raniere, Catherine can't help but shake the feeling there's more than meets the eye with the self-help organization. Marianne Garvey, CNN, "Lifetime announces plans for a movie about the NXIVM sex cult," 2 July 2019 Chicken also guest-starred on chalupas, a pair of enigmatic Tex-Mex characters with refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese on corn tortillas pulled hot from the fryer. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: B&B Smokehouse sets a solid barbecue table on San Antonio’s South Side," 13 June 2019 Epstein’s dinner party with members of New York City’s media elite also took place after the enigmatic financier had paid out millions of dollars in settlements to seven of those victims, the 2011 Daily Beast report added. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Jeffrey Epstein’s social contacts with Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, other celebs scrutinized," 9 July 2019

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

13 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for enigmatic

The first known use of enigmatic was in 1609

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English Language Learners Definition of enigmatic

: full of mystery and difficult to understand

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Comments on enigmatic

What made you want to look up enigmatic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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