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Synonym Chooser

How does the noun problem differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of problem are enigma, mystery, puzzle, and riddle. While all these words mean "something which baffles or perplexes," problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.

problems created by high technology

In what contexts can enigma take the place of problem?

While the synonyms enigma and problem are close in meaning, enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

his suicide remains an enigma

When could mystery be used to replace problem?

Although the words mystery and problem have much in common, 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 puzzle be a reasonable alternative to problem?

The words puzzle and problem 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 might riddle be a better fit than problem?

In some situations, the words riddle and problem are roughly equivalent. However, riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.

the riddle of the reclusive pop star

Thesaurus Entries Near problem

Cite this Entry

“Problem.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on problem

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