Synonyms of enigma

something hard to understand or explain
  • how Thomas Jefferson could be both a slaveholder and a champion of liberty remains an enigma

Synonyms for enigma

Words Related to enigma

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Frequently Asked Questions About enigma

How does the noun enigma differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of enigma are mystery, problem, puzzle, and riddle. While all these words mean "something which baffles or perplexes," enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

his suicide remains an enigma

When would mystery be a good substitute for enigma?

The words mystery and enigma can be used in similar contexts, but mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation.

the mystery of the stone monoliths

When is it sensible to use problem instead of enigma?

In some situations, the words problem and enigma are roughly equivalent. However, problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.

problems created by high technology

Where would puzzle be a reasonable alternative to enigma?

The words puzzle and enigma are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution.

the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

When is riddle a more appropriate choice than enigma?

The meanings of riddle and enigma largely overlap; however, riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.

the riddle of the reclusive pop star

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Time Traveler for enigma

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The first known use of enigma was in 1539

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Cite this Entry

“Enigma.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on enigma

Nglish: Translation of enigma for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enigma for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about enigma


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