puzzle 1 of 2

as in mystery
something hard to understand or explain the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day

Synonyms & Similar Words

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puzzle

2 of 2

verb

Synonym Chooser

How does the noun puzzle differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of puzzle are enigma, mystery, problem, and riddle. While all these words mean "something which baffles or perplexes," 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 enigma a more appropriate choice than puzzle?

While in some cases nearly identical to puzzle, enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

his suicide remains an enigma

Where would mystery be a reasonable alternative to puzzle?

Although the words mystery and puzzle 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

When would problem be a good substitute for puzzle?

While the synonyms problem and puzzle are close in meaning, problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.

problems created by high technology

When might riddle be a better fit than puzzle?

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

the riddle of the reclusive pop star

Thesaurus Entries Near puzzle

Cite this Entry

“Puzzle.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/puzzle. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

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