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[kuh-nuhn-druh m] /kəˈnʌn drəm/
a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words, as What is black and white and read all over? A newspaper.
anything that puzzles.
Origin of conundrum
First recorded in 1590-1600; pseudo-L word of obscure origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for conundrum
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "This is obviously a conundrum," said Yates, ticking off the items on his four fingers.

  • This may be a good solution, viewing the problem as a conundrum: but it is not scientific.

    A Tangled Tale Lewis Carroll
  • Brainerd lay sleeping near me, and I thought of his comment, 'A conundrum?'

    Against Odds Lawrence L. Lynch
  • "Give you my honor I thought it was a conundrum," says Henry Darley.

    Molly Bawn Margaret Wolfe Hamilton
  • And my conundrum was, Had I lectured my curate, or had my curate lectured me?

    My New Curate P.A. Sheehan
British Dictionary definitions for conundrum


a riddle, esp one whose answer makes a play on words
a puzzling question or problem
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for conundrum

1590s, Oxford University slang for "pedant," also "whim," etc., later (1790) "riddle, puzzle." Also spelled quonundrum. The sort of ponderous pseudo-Latin word that was once the height of humor in learned circles.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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