noun enig·ma \i-ˈnig-mə, e-\

: someone or something that is difficult to understand or explain

Full Definition of ENIGMA

:  an obscure speech or writing
:  something hard to understand or explain
:  an inscrutable or mysterious person

Examples of ENIGMA

  1. Despite the enigma of the singularity, the big bang theory is unquestionably one of the most successful ideas in the history of science. —Tom Yulsman, Astronomy, September 1999

Origin of ENIGMA

Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigmat-, ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable
First Known Use: 1539

Synonym Discussion of ENIGMA

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. 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>. problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern <problems created by high technology>. enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret <his suicide remains an enigma>. riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction <the riddle of the reclusive pop star>. puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution <the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police>.

Other Literature Terms

apophasis, bathos, bildungsroman, bowdlerize, caesura, coda, doggerel, euphemism, poesy, prosody

Rhymes with ENIGMA

ENIGMA Defined for Kids


noun enig·ma \i-ˈnig-mə\

Definition of ENIGMA for Kids

:  someone or something that is hard to understand <Why she quit the team is an enigma to me.>


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