[kuh-nuhn-druh m]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for conundrum

Contemporary Examples of conundrum

Historical Examples of conundrum

  • "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 for conundrum

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

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