cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Definition of cryptic

1 : secret, occult
2a : having or seeming to have a hidden or ambiguous meaning : mysterious cryptic messages cryptic prophecies
b : marked by an often perplexing brevity cryptic marginal notes
3 : serving to conceal cryptic coloration in animals also : exhibiting cryptic coloration cryptic animals
4 : not recognized a cryptic infection
5 : employing cipher or code

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Other Words from cryptic

cryptically \ ˈkrip-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for cryptic

obscure, dark, vague, enigmatic, cryptic, ambiguous, equivocal mean not clearly understandable. obscure implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge. obscure poems dark implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion. muttered dark hints of revenge vague implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration. a vague sense of obligation enigmatic stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality. enigmatic occult writings cryptic implies a purposely concealed meaning. cryptic hints of hidden treasure ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation. an ambiguous directive equivocal applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading. moral precepts with equivocal phrasing

The Mysterious Origins of Cryptic

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, in fact, something "cryptic" can sometimes seem as if written in code.

Examples of cryptic in a Sentence

… his hectic characters either communicate in choppy or cryptic exchanges or rattle on in breathless recitations full of contradictions and asides. — Donna Seaman, Booklist, 15 Mar. 1994 Since Hughes's poems contained neither Eliot's footnotes nor Ezra Pound's cryptic orientalism, many critics and editors assumed the poet unintelligent and his work raw or, at best, slight. — Rita Dove, New York Times Book Review, 9 Oct. 1988 The remark seemed cryptic to Philip, but when he heard her say it two or three times to different persons, and found that it aroused hearty agreement, he came to the conclusion that it was only obscure to his own intelligence. — W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, 1915 His instructions were cryptic. He said only to wait until we felt certain the answer was clear. puzzled by the cryptic e-mail message left on his computer
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Recent Examples on the Web Iconic Swedish pop band ABBA posted a cryptic tweet about an announcement coming Saturday. CNN, 29 Aug. 2021 On the day of the film's theatrical release, Kelly (who appeared in the film under his real name, Colson Baker) sent out a cryptic tweet. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 24 July 2021 His cryptic tweet was sent out on the same day the film hit theaters. Gabrielle Chung, PEOPLE.com, 23 July 2021 Bitcoin slid after a cryptic tweet from Elon Musk hinting at a potential split with the largest cryptocurrency, the latest post from the billionaire to buffet the token’s price. Eric Lam, Fortune, 4 June 2021 Earlier this season Sixers guard Ben Simmons had a cryptic tweet that consisted of just an emoji with James Harden trade news swirling around. Andy Nesbitt, USA TODAY, 4 May 2021 On early Thursday morning, Elon Musk made a cryptic tweet apparently referring to his support of Dogecoin. Palash Ghosh, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 GameStop and Cohen have largely remained quiet during the volatile stock moves, though Cohen did post a cryptic Tweet on Wednesday that included a photo of an ice cream cone. NBC News, 25 Feb. 2021 Many linked the initial surge Wednesday to a cryptic tweet of an ice cream cone from Ryan Cohen, one of the largest shareholders in GameStop through his firm RC Ventures. Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, 25 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cryptic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cryptic

1620, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for cryptic

borrowed from Late Latin crypticus "hidden," borrowed from Late Greek kryptikós "obscuring" (Greek kryptikôs "secretly"), from kryptós "hidden, secret" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at crypt

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Time Traveler for cryptic

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The first known use of cryptic was in 1620

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Dictionary Entries Near cryptic

Crypteroniaceae

cryptic

cryptic species

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cryptic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cryptic. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for cryptic

cryptic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of cryptic

: difficult to understand : having or seeming to have a hidden meaning

cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Kids Definition of cryptic

: difficult to understand or make sense of He left a cryptic message.

cryptic

adjective
cryp·​tic | \ ˈkrip-tik How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \

Medical Definition of cryptic

1 : serving to conceal cryptic coloration in animals
2 : not recognized a cryptic infection cryptic cases of lead poisoning

Other Words from cryptic

cryptically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cryptic (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on cryptic

Nglish: Translation of cryptic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cryptic for Arabic Speakers

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