Definition of enigma in English:



  • A person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand.

    ‘Madeleine was still an enigma to him’
    • ‘The two of them were a mystery, an enigma that Zoë had promised herself she would solve someday.’
    • ‘What is left is the puzzle and the enigma that we need to figure out.’
    • ‘Like this person was an enigma, a thousand puzzles beneath a vulnerable skin.’
    • ‘For understandable reasons, the pulmonary circulation remains an enigma to most doctors.’
    • ‘He was no longer the soldier, no longer the enigma, and no longer a mystery.’
    • ‘Not that its mysteries will readily reveal themselves: one finds oneself rereading passages to crack its subtle enigmas, tantalised by the missing puzzle piece that lies just beyond all that is visible.’
    • ‘With the addition of diacritical points and vowel signs, the text of the Koran as we have it still presents a series of puzzles and enigmas begging for explanation.’
    • ‘In the first half of the novel, Kilroy creates the enigma, which she proceeds to unravel in the second half.’
    • ‘And yet one of the many enigmas about this most enigmatic of men was how he could combine so obvious and genuine a love for his wife of 41 years with the endless affairs and betrayals which must have made her life a misery.’
    • ‘A Gazette article earlier this year highlighted an enigma that has long puzzled me.’
    • ‘The Dane is truly an enigma whose ever-changing fortunes are shrouded in mystery.’
    • ‘It is in any case an enigma which neither one can explain properly nor one can understand properly.’
    • ‘His diaries record recurrent struggles to understand the enigma of his own personality, his spiritual emptiness and addictiveness.’
    • ‘His concept of political morality is not merely a paradox; it is indeed a conundrum wrapped in an enigma.’
    • ‘It is often felt that death is an enigma, perhaps the ultimate mystery.’
    • ‘The script is slack and messy, in a way which does not suggest enigma or mystery - just the need for a couple more drafts.’
    • ‘And with each biographical effort to understand him, that enigma has become more, not less, obscure.’
    • ‘After such a long struggle and the loss of her sons in unequal battles, she understands the enigma of life.’
    • ‘One critic has said the film is: an enigma, as difficult to like as it is to dismiss.’
    • ‘Now, some of us know that Moss is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, and that he's often referred to as not the most approachable of characters.’
    mystery, puzzle, riddle, conundrum, paradox, problem, unsolved problem, question, question mark, quandary, a closed book
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Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai ‘speak allusively’, from ainos ‘fable’.