What It Means
Cryptic refers to something difficult to understand that has, or seems to have, a hidden or ambiguous meaning.
// The children were stumped by the cryptic lettering that the gas company had marked on the street.
"Major League Baseball teased an upcoming announcement Tuesday with a cryptic tweet captioned: 'Big things coming.' At this point, no one really knows what this means, except that whatever MLB plans to announce Wednesday might possibly maybe have something to do with the moon, which, in the mysterious tweet, was edited to look like a baseball hovering over the date, 6.23.21." — Michelle R. Martinelli, USA Today, 22 June 2021
Did You Know?
The history of cryptic starts with kryptein, a Greek word meaning "to hide." Can you uncover other kryptein relatives in English? Not surprisingly, crypt, meaning "underground chamber," is one. The element krypton would be another correct guess, and so would apocrypha, which can mean "writings of dubious authenticity." Kryptein also gave us several words having to do with secret codes, such as cryptogram ("a communication in cipher or code") and cryptography ("the coding and decoding of secret messages"). And cryptocurrency is currency that exists digitally and that relies on computer encryption (secret code) to prevent counterfeiting and fraud.
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