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[mi-steer-ee-uh s] /mɪˈstɪər i əs/
full of, characterized by, or involving mystery:
a mysterious occurrence.
implying or suggesting a mystery:
a mysterious smile.
of obscure nature, meaning, origin, etc.; puzzling; inexplicable:
a mysterious inscription on the ancient tomb.
Origin of mysterious
First recorded in 1610-20; mystery1 + -ous
Related forms
mysteriously, adverb
mysteriousness, noun
quasi-mysterious, adjective
quasi-mysteriously, adverb
unmysterious, adjective
unmysteriously, adverb
unmysteriousness, noun
1. secret, esoteric, occult, cryptic. 3. unfathomable, unintelligible, incomprehensible, enigmatic, impenetrable.
Synonym Study
1.Mysterious, inscrutable, mystical, obscure refer to that which is not easily comprehended or explained. That which is mysterious, by being unknown or puzzling, excites curiosity, amazement, or awe: a mysterious disease. Inscrutable applies to that which is impenetrable, so enigmatic that one cannot interpret its significance: an inscrutable smile. That which is mystical has a secret significance, such as that attaching to certain rites or signs: mystical symbols. That which is obscure is discovered or comprehended dimly or with difficulty: obscure motives. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mysterious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the first moment you spoke, I have felt this mysterious power.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • "The beauty that lies within has ever a mysterious power," answered Plato.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • By some mysterious power you have ever known my heart better than I myself have known it.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • All who listened were deeply impressed by language so mysterious.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • She prevails, and rescues him from the mysterious perils of the library.

British Dictionary definitions for mysterious


characterized by or indicative of mystery
puzzling, curious, or enigmatic
Derived Forms
mysteriously, adverb
mysteriousness, noun
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 mysterious

1610s, "full of mystery," from Latin mysterium (see mystery (n.1)) + -ous. Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness. Earlier in same sense was mysterial (early 15c.), from Late Latin mysterialis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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