adjective Also cryp·ti·cal.
  1. mysterious in meaning; puzzling; ambiguous: a cryptic message.
  2. abrupt; terse; short: a cryptic note.
  3. secret; occult: a cryptic writing.
  4. involving or using cipher, code, etc.
  5. Zoology. fitted for concealing; serving to camouflage.
  1. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for cryptical

Historical Examples of cryptical

  • The conductor opened the door and bawled a cryptical announcement.

    Carmen Ariza

    Charles Francis Stocking

  • To most of us the Bible has long been a work of profound mystery, cryptical, undecipherable.

    Carmen Ariza

    Charles Francis Stocking

  • Matters were in this cryptical state when the door opened and Father came in.

    New Treasure Seekers

    E. (Edith) Nesbit

  • But else, and failing these cryptical or subterraneous currents of communication, for us the record is closed.

British Dictionary definitions for cryptical



  1. hidden; secret; occult
  2. (esp of comments, sayings, etc) obscure in meaning
  3. (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 cryptical



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

cryptical in Medicine


  1. Hidden or concealed.
  2. 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.