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


play \ˌe-(ˌ)nig-ˈma-ti-kəl\

Definition of enigmatic

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


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

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Examples of enigmatic in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. the discovery of the abandoned ship in mid ocean remains one of the most enigmatic episodes in seafaring history

  5. the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of enigmatic

see enigma

First Known Use: 1609

Synonym Discussion of 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.

ENIGMATIC Defined for English Language Learners


adjective enig·mat·ic \ˌe-(ˌ)nig-ˈma-tik also ˌē-(ˌ)nig-\

Definition of enigmatic for English Language Learners

  • : full of mystery and difficult to understand

Seen and Heard

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


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

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