A mystery is something that baffles our understanding and cannot be explained. The giant slabs of Stonehenge, remain a mystery to this day.

The noun mystery comes from the Greek mysterion, meaning "secret rite or doctrine." A great synonym for secret is enigma. We use this word all the time to describe stuff we don't understand, from crop circles and UFOs to the origins of the universe and the workings of the human brain. In literature, drama, and film, a mystery is a story that centers around a crime, usually murder, which finally gets solved at the very end.

Definitions of mystery

n something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained

“how it got out is a mystery
closed book, enigma, secret
Type of:
trouble or confusion resulting from complexity

n a story about a crime (usually murder) presented as a novel or play or movie

mystery story, whodunit
detective story
a narrative about someone who investigates crimes and obtains evidence leading to their resolution
murder mystery
a narrative about a murder and how the murderer is discovered
Type of:
a piece of fiction that narrates a chain of related events

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.