enigmatic

Something that's enigmatic is tough to figure out. It's puzzling and even mysterious, like those weird secret college societies, Mona Lisa's smile, or the New York Times crossword.

It's no mystery where the adjective enigmatic comes from: It's rooted in the Greek word for riddle. Something that's enigmatic is obscure, unclear and not an easy nut to crack. Translating the Rosetta Stone, with its ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and mysterious foreign writings, was certainly an enigmatic challenge for the archaeologists that found it.

Definitions of enigmatic
  1. adjective
    not clear to the understanding
    “I didn't grasp the meaning of that enigmatic comment until much later”
    “prophetic texts so enigmatic that their meaning has been disputed for centuries”
    synonyms: enigmatical, puzzling
    incomprehensible, uncomprehensible
    difficult to understand
  2. adjective
    resembling an oracle in obscurity of thought
    “so enigmatic that priests might have to clarify it”
    “an enigmatic smile”
    synonyms: oracular
    ambiguous
    having more than one possible meaning
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