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[mis-tuh-ree, -tree] /ˈmɪs tə ri, -tri/
noun, plural mysteries.
anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown:
the mysteries of nature.
any affair, thing, or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation:
The masked guest is an absolute mystery to everyone.
a novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end:
a mystery by Agatha Christie.
obscure, puzzling, or mysterious quality or character:
the mystery of Mona Lisa's smile.
any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.
  1. a sacramental rite.
  2. the Eucharist.
an incident or scene in connection with the life of Christ, regarded as of special significance:
the mysteries of the Passion.
any of the 15 events in the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary meditated upon during the recitation of the rosary.
  1. ancient religions that admitted candidates by secret rites and rituals the meaning of which was known only to initiated worshipers.
  2. any rites or secrets known only to those initiated:
    the mysteries of Freemasonry.
  3. (in the Christian religion) the Eucharistic elements.
Origin of mystery1
1275-1325; Middle English mysterie < Latin mystērium < Greek mystḗrion, equivalent to mýs(tēs) (see mystic) + -tērion noun suffix
4. puzzle, problem, secret, riddle.


[mis-tuh-ree] /ˈmɪs tə ri/
noun, plural mysteries. Archaic.
a craft or trade.
a guild, as of merchants.
1325-75; Middle English mistery < Medieval Latin misterium, variant of Latin ministerium ministry Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mystery
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He evidently saw in me a mystery which excited his curiosity.

    Major Frank A. L. G. Bosboom-Toussaint
  • And what would you do with the affairs now dedicated to mystery?

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Many a time Myrtle had puzzled herself about the mystery of the old desk.

    The Guardian Angel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • She inquired how the accident happened; for this was still a mystery to everybody.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • The darkness added a certain wild charm and mystery to it all.

    A Spoil of Office Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for mystery


/ˈmɪstərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -teries
an unexplained or inexplicable event, phenomenon, etc
a person or thing that arouses curiosity or suspense because of an unknown, obscure, or enigmatic quality
the state or quality of being obscure, inexplicable, or enigmatic
a story, film, etc, which arouses suspense and curiosity because of facts concealed
(Christianity) any truth that is divinely revealed but otherwise unknowable
(Christianity) a sacramental rite, such as the Eucharist, or (when plural) the consecrated elements of the Eucharist
(often pl) any of various rites of certain ancient Mediterranean religions
short for mystery play
Word Origin
C14: via Latin from Greek mustērion secret rites. See mystic


noun (archaic) (pl) -teries
a trade, occupation, or craft
a guild of craftsmen
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin mistērium, from Latin ministerium occupation, from minister official
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 mystery

early 14c., in a theological sense, "religious truth via divine revelation, hidden spiritual significance, mystical truth," from Anglo-French *misterie, Old French mistere "secret, mystery, hidden meaning" (Modern French mystère), from Latin mysterium "secret rite, secret worship; a secret thing," from Greek mysterion (usually in plural mysteria) "secret rite or doctrine," from mystes "one who has been initiated," from myein "to close, shut" (see mute (adj.)); perhaps referring to the lips (in secrecy) or to the eyes (only initiates were allowed to see the sacred rites).

The Greek word was used in Septuagint for "secret counsel of God," translated in Vulgate as sacramentum. Non-theological use in English, "a hidden or secret thing," is from late 14c. In reference to the ancient rites of Greece, Egypt, etc. it is attested from 1640s. Meaning "detective story" first recorded in English 1908.

"handicraft, trade, art" (archaic), late 14c., from Medieval Latin misterium, alteration of Latin ministerium "service, occupation, office, ministry" (see ministry), influenced in form by Medieval Latin mysterium (see mystery (n.1)) and in sense by maistrie "mastery." Now only in mystery play, in reference to the medieval performances, which often were staged by members of craft guilds. The two senses of mystery formed a common pun in (secular) Tudor theater.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for mystery



Hash (1885+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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mystery in the Bible

the calling of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, so designated (Eph. 1:9, 10; 3:8-11; Col. 1:25-27); a truth undiscoverable except by revelation, long hid, now made manifest. The resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:51), and other doctrines which need to be explained but which cannot be fully understood by finite intelligence (Matt. 13:11; Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 13:2); the union between Christ and his people symbolized by the marriage union (Eph. 5:31, 32; comp. 6:19); the seven stars and the seven candlesticks (Rev. 1:20); and the woman clothed in scarlet (17:7), are also in this sense mysteries. The anti-Christian power working in his day is called by the apostle (2 Thess. 2:7) the "mystery of iniquity."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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