How does the noun mystery differ from other similar words?
Some common synonyms of mystery are enigma, problem, puzzle, and riddle. While all these words mean "something which baffles or perplexes," 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
Where would enigma be a reasonable alternative to mystery?
While the synonyms enigma and mystery are close in meaning, enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.
his suicide remains an enigma
When might problem be a better fit than mystery?
The words problem and mystery can be used in similar contexts, but problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.
problems created by high technology
When is puzzle a more appropriate choice than mystery?
The synonyms puzzle and mystery are sometimes interchangeable, but 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 it sensible to use riddle instead of mystery?
Although the words riddle and mystery have much in common, riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.