Word of the Day : March 2, 2011

enigmatic

play
adjective en-ig-MAT-ik

Definition

: of, relating to, or resembling an enigma : mysterious

Did You Know?

When it comes to things that aren't clearly understandable, you have a wide range of word choices, including "dark," "enigmatic," "cryptic," and "equivocal." Of these, "dark" is the most sinister, implying an imperfect or clouded revelation, often with ominous overtones. "Enigmatic" (which traces back to Greek "ainissesthai," meaning "to speak in riddles") emphasizes a puzzling, mystifying quality, whereas "cryptic" implies a purposely concealed meaning. "Equivocal" is the best choice for language that is left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading.


Examples

When Rolf asked Tianna where she had been all day, she gave him an enigmatic smile and answered, "Oh, here and there."

"Perhaps the most enigmatic feature of the heart-shaped cherimoya is its evocative green, scaled armor-like exterior: Is it an artichoke? Dinosaur egg? Armadillo? Grenade? A fabric swatch from Karl Lagerfeld's spring collection?" -- From an article by Kelly Rae Hickman in the San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2011



Name That Synonym

Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of "enigmatic" that typically applies to language capable of more than one interpretation: _ _ b _ _ u _ _ s? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!