adjective Also cryp·ti·cal.

mysterious in meaning; puzzling; ambiguous: a cryptic message.
abrupt; terse; short: a cryptic note.
secret; occult: a cryptic writing.
involving or using cipher, code, etc.
Zoology. fitted for concealing; serving to camouflage.


a cryptogram, especially one designed as a puzzle.

Origin of cryptic

1595–1605; < Late Latin crypticus < Greek kryptikós hidden. See crypt, -ic
Related formscryp·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·cryp·tic, adjectivenon·cryp·ti·cal, adjectivenon·cryp·ti·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for cryptic

1. enigmatic, perplexing.

Synonym study

1. See ambiguous. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cryptic

Contemporary Examples of cryptic

Historical Examples of cryptic

  • "A Wade check is always honored," was his cryptic assertion.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • When he spoke, his words were cryptic to all those in the room.

  • "Conditions have not been wholly favorable," was the cryptic reply.

    It's All Yours

    Sam Merwin

  • "We-all'll come 'long when we's bid," was Jess' cryptic retort.

    Peggy Stewart at School

    Gabrielle E. Jackson

  • "I believe in the belief of the guides," was my cryptic rejoinder.

    The Shadow World

    Hamlin Garland

British Dictionary definitions for cryptic




hidden; secret; occult
(esp of comments, sayings, etc) obscure in meaning
(of the coloration of animals) tending to conceal by disguising or camouflaging the shape
Derived Formscryptically, adverb

Word Origin for cryptic

C17: from Late Latin crypticus, from Greek kruptikos, from kruptos concealed; see crypt
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 cryptic

1630s, "hidden, occult, mystical," from Late Latin crypticus, from Greek kryptikos "fit for concealing," from kryptos "hidden" (see crypt). Meaning "mysterious, enigmatic" is recorded from 1920. Related: Cryptically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cryptic in Medicine




Hidden or concealed.
Tending to conceal or camouflage, as the coloring of an animal.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.