Main definitions of mystery in US English:

: mystery1mystery2

mystery1

noun

  • 1Something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.

    ‘the mysteries of outer space’
    ‘hoping that the inquest would solve the mystery’
    • ‘And the trouble is that there does not seem to be any impartial source that can explain these mysteries to me, without having a personal agenda!’
    • ‘I wish someone would explain to me the mystery behind gas pricing.’
    • ‘Perhaps the dominant colour scheme will be amber and that explains the mystery.’
    • ‘Two leading theories explain the population mystery.’
    • ‘Well I have no idea and I think the mystery will never be explained, but now do you see how easy it is for me to get mixed up.’
    • ‘They're looking to solve the mystery, and there are a lot of questions that are unanswered right now.’
    • ‘All it requires is a flicker of disorientation, an unexpected jolt, or an encounter with a mystery too spooky to explain, and it's off.’
    • ‘The struggles of the American writer to explain the deep mysteries of the British character are pure joy.’
    • ‘Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves.’
    • ‘Many theories have been given to explain the extraordinary mystery of these missing ships and planes.’
    • ‘I cannot explain the mystery of what went wrong.’
    • ‘However all was explained and the mystery was solved very quickly.’
    • ‘I've left you a couple of phone messages and emails and assume that you will explain the mystery of the disappearing diaries to me at some point.’
    • ‘Science has gained much through the years but has stopped short in its attempts to understand the ultimate mystery of life.’
    • ‘That lack of success has always been something of a mystery, and there are various unproven hypotheses to explain away the mystery.’
    • ‘Contrary to public perceptions, science can help understand and explain the mysteries of emotion.’
    • ‘The technique of the mystery is thus explained, but the mystery remains.’
    • ‘Indeed, his Japanese publisher has been so inundated by bemused readers that they have set up a website to explain some of the mysteries of the book.’
    • ‘And yet we never cease trying to explain the mystery of sport: why it means so much to so many and why we are so curious about those who succeed at it.’
    • ‘When we came to understand the customs of this extraordinary people the mystery was explained.’
    puzzle, enigma, conundrum, riddle, secret, unsolved problem, problem, question, question mark, closed book
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The condition or quality of being secret, strange, or difficult to explain.
      ‘much of her past is shrouded in mystery’
      • ‘The subject is surrounded in mystery, superstition, secrecy, and most interesting of all, real magic!’
      • ‘Beyond that, as they say, it is shrouded in mystery.’
      • ‘The book's jacket says only that he ‘lives off the grid’, which presumably is intended to create an air of mystery.’
      • ‘For as long as I can remember, there is a beautiful altar cut from the rocky face of a heavily wooded hill, which shelters this place and gives it its air of seclusion and mystery.’
      • ‘They maintain an air of mystery by wearing masks or hoods.’
      • ‘Ambassadors used to have a scent of mystery, secrecy and even of romance about them.’
      • ‘The pseudonyms gave the sisters an aura of mystery and secrecy, so much so that some readers believed that all three were one person or that they were males.’
      • ‘Somehow, the town itself, retains its air of mystery, and mediaeval ambience, despite the cell phone shops, supermarket, and mini shopping mall opposite the car park.’
      • ‘He says that its origins ‘have long been shrouded in mystery and controversy.’’
      • ‘The creation of life in general and of the human person in particular is a thing we can know a little about, but also a thing which is shrouded in impenetrable mystery.’
      • ‘The exact fate of the 45 people on board is shrouded in mystery.’
      • ‘I just don't see any justification for an air of mystery here.’
      • ‘The Valley was wedged in-between the two countries, being obscured in mystery and darkness and confusion.’
      • ‘In the days when he worked for the CIA, the agency was shrouded in secrecy and cloaked in mystery.’
      • ‘If I've ever had an air of mystery, it's by default.’
      • ‘What keeps people hunting these things is the air of mystery that surrounds them - which is all too easily dispelled.’
      • ‘Already sales of the book are going well and Kieran is confident that once again children will lap-up the air of mystery and suspense surrounding his books.’
      • ‘He exudes an air of shyness, mystery and slight menace - not to be confused, say colleagues, with sophistication.’
      • ‘The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding.’
      • ‘Yet, the air of mystery surrounding each character never dissipates, even after the last line of each monologue is spoken.’
      secrecy, darkness, obscurity, ambiguity, ambiguousness, uncertainty, impenetrability, vagueness, nebulousness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A person or thing whose identity or nature is puzzling or unknown.
      ‘“He's a bit of a mystery,” said Nina’
      as modifier ‘a mystery guest’
      • ‘A further clarification of the mystery man's identity still elicited a blank response.’
      • ‘A re-opening will take place on Saturday, June 25 with a mystery celebrity guest.’
      • ‘In the early 20th century this prolific New Zealand author's identity was a mystery.’
      • ‘Police said his identity was still a mystery because there were no identification documents on him.’
      • ‘Police are beginning door-to-door inquiries in an increasingly intense search for clues to the identity of a mystery body.’
      • ‘Her anger increased when she found out the mystery caller's identity.’
      • ‘We've also had concerned correspondents in France baffled over the identity of our mystery poet.’
      • ‘She opened her eyes, and at last the mystery guy's identity was known.’
      • ‘The identity of the mystery card is then revealed and the player with the card closest in the deck wins.’
      • ‘I quickly went over to the desk and starting sifting through the papers, looking for a clue to the identity of our mystery guest.’
      • ‘‘Once in a while I'd have a mystery guest,’ muses the Hollywood star.’
      • ‘But with their identities still a mystery, speculation that drugs bosses might have sanctioned the gruesome deaths began to fade.’
      • ‘Click here for the identity of the mystery candidate.’
      • ‘There will be a disco from 9 pm to midnight and a mystery guest will do the honours in presenting the medals.’
      • ‘Once inside, you can set about figuring out who the mystery guests are.’
      • ‘Looks like our mystery guest blogger decided to reveal his true identity.’
      • ‘A phone call later confirmed the identity of the mystery ingredient, but staff should be briefed on this at the start of the day.’
      • ‘Blackpool have yet to reveal the identity of the mystery man who came so close to signing last week.’
      • ‘The identity of the mystery speaker was never revealed.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the identity of the mystery investor in Indigo whose bearish actions led to a dramatic fall in the company's share price has been uncovered.’
  • 2A novel, play, or movie dealing with a puzzling crime, especially a murder.

    • ‘Thrillers, mysteries and crime novels are perennial favorites for summertime reading.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, Emerson says he's amused by the number of people who tell him they think writing mysteries and thrillers must be a very exciting job.’
    • ‘He may be writing a murder mystery, but his novel is primarily concerned with the nature of small-town America and its particular manners and morals.’
    • ‘It's better approached as a comedy than a murder mystery.’
    • ‘Imagine Eliot then as the villain in a murder mystery.’
    • ‘It's science fiction all right, but it's also a character study and a murder mystery.’
    • ‘This is easily the weakest entry of the four, a murder mystery that all but gives away the solution just minutes into the film.’
    • ‘It's just another in a long line of rather simple murder mysteries.’
    • ‘Still, a great lead performance and some dazzling visuals will please fans of old-fashioned murder mysteries.’
    • ‘This mystery is a traditional whodunnit, but with a serious vein of social commentary running through it.’
    • ‘Why make things more complicated by turning it into a murder mystery?’
    • ‘That is why the author, named I in my book, which is also a murder mystery, is dead, and always has been.’
    • ‘The story is a fairly set piece murder mystery, or murder thriller.’
    • ‘It is not a thriller or a mystery or an action film or a crime film, nor any kind of ordinary drama or melodrama.’
    • ‘A murder mystery, the film, however, has a clear storyline and characters.’
    • ‘The play now becomes a whodunit murder mystery.’
    • ‘Layered fictions aren't always murder mysteries, of course.’
    • ‘If you enjoy police dramas or murder mysteries, chances are you will enjoy this.’
    • ‘Further compounding the peril is the fact that this is basically a murder mystery, a whodunit with slasher overtones.’
    • ‘But also, it's a murder mystery, and there may be a ghost, and also a zombie in it.’
    thriller, detective novel, detective story, murder story
    View synonyms
  • 3mysteriesThe secret rites of Greek and Roman pagan religion, or of any ancient or tribal religion, to which only initiates are admitted.

    • ‘With folded hands, Ashoka begged enlightenment and initiation into the mysteries of the Dharma of Samudra.’
    • ‘This was the institution of mysteries, with hierophants (chief priests) and torch-bearers complete.’
    • ‘Egyptian mystery religion is basically Greco-Roman mysteries, a series of initiation rites.’
    • ‘I think the exact make-up of the triune goddess depended on what city you came from and what mysteries you were initiated in, as well as period as Anna points out.’
    • ‘To prove its existence in ancient religion he cites the famous passage from Plotinus's Enneads, that initiates of the mysteries must enter them naked.’
    • ‘It is a Hindu doctrine Movement, to teach the Universal Law of Creation, revealed by ancient Christian mysteries.’
    • ‘Those initiated into the satanic mysteries were all given some sort of physical mark, such as a claw mark under the left eye.’
    • ‘The two strangers are not serious; there are jests at the mysteries which precede the enthronement, and he is being initiated into the mysteries of the sophistical ritual.’
    • ‘Well your interest in the mysteries, rather than in the codified beliefs of religion would put you very nicely in the world of the transcendentalists.’
    • ‘His Protrepticus is a copious source of information about the Greek mysteries, though his wish to represent them as a perversion of Scriptural teachings must have led to misrepresentation.’
    • ‘Whether or not the bull, tauros, is Dionysius in one of his forms, there is no doubt that the performers link the ritual to the old pagan mysteries.’
    • ‘This does not necessarily mean that Euripides was an initiate of Dionysian mysteries, or that his portrayal of the god's worshippers (the Maenads) is an honest one.’
    • ‘Someone who has knowledge of religious or spiritual mysteries is sometimes called a hierophant.’
    1. 3.1 The practices, skills, or lore peculiar to a particular trade or activity and regarded as baffling to those without specialized knowledge.
      ‘the mysteries of analytical psychology’
      • ‘Without the use of Einstein's theories the mysteries of atomic power may still be evading man today.’
      • ‘Indian nuclear scientists say they have unpeeled one of the great mysteries of the soft-drinks trade - how to extract juice from bananas cheaply and simply.’
      • ‘It also explains how the buildings were built and rebuilt, and unravels the mysteries of how political, design and engineering obstacles were overcome.’
      • ‘To judge of the perfection of debtors by the numerosity of their creditors is the readiest way for entering into the mysteries of practical arithmetic.’
      • ‘It is, I think, true to say that many practising accountants no longer try to unravel the mysteries of the legislation by reading its provisions.’
      • ‘For women, discussions of technique might unlock some mysteries.’
      • ‘I was hoping today to write about quantum gravity, after once and for all explaining the mysteries of quantum mechanics in the previous post.’
      • ‘David Newble attempts to unravel the mysteries behind local government finance.’
      • ‘Those present at the ceremony in London will include William Aitken, a customer service manager for the Inland Revenue in Irvine, commended for explaining the mysteries of tax.’
      • ‘There we all were, craning our white-hatted heads in close to watch while our teacher explained the mysteries of making sausages.’
    2. 3.2archaic The Christian Eucharist.
  • 4Christian Theology
    A religious belief based on divine revelation, especially one regarded as beyond human understanding.

    ‘the mystery of Christ’
    • ‘It's up to us preachers, ministers, stewards of the mysteries of Christ, to make that transaction.’
    • ‘In him, we can see the ultimate mystery of God in human form.’
    • ‘It is the Spirit who inspires our praise of God and brings us into the divine life, that is, into the mystery of God revealed in Christ.’
    • ‘For a Christian, the answer is in the incarnation: because the divine mystery is made flesh.’
    • ‘Trinity Sunday celebrates the belief in the incomprehensible mystery of God, not only as Spirit, but also as God creator and God incarnate.’
    1. 4.1 An incident in the life of Jesus or of a saint as a focus of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, especially each of those commemorated during recitation of successive decades of the rosary.
      • ‘Does he promulgate new mysteries for the Rosary?’
      • ‘In that letter, he added five new mysteries to the rosary, and declared that his twenty-fifth anniversary year would be known as the Year of the Rosary.’
      • ‘Leaks from the Vatican, in anticipation of the document's release, suggest that the Pope will introduce five new mysteries to the Rosary.’
      • ‘Walking through the Stations of the Cross or praying the rosary is another way to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus.’
      • ‘This is the fourth of the new mysteries of the rosary.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘mystic presence, hidden religious symbolism’): from Old French mistere or Latin mysterium, from Greek mustērion; related to mystic.

Pronunciation

mystery

/ˈmɪst(ə)ri//ˈmist(ə)rē/

Main definitions of mystery in US English:

: mystery1mystery2

mystery2

noun

archaic
  • A handicraft or trade.

Origin

Late Middle English: from medieval Latin misterium, contraction of ministerium ‘ministry’, by association with mysterium (see mystery).

Pronunciation

mystery

/ˈmɪst(ə)ri//ˈmist(ə)rē/