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 cryptically

Contemporary Examples of cryptically

  • Cryptically, he added that he would like women to have more leadership roles in administrative and pastoral activities.

    The Daily Beast logo
    What About Women, Pope Francis?

    Janine di Giovanni

    August 1, 2013

  • The areas where they overlap are cryptically blurred, impossible to anticipate what monstrosities might come from them.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Great Weekend Reads: December 30, 2011

    Jacob Silverman, Michael Thomsen, Lauren Elkin

    December 30, 2011

  • The announcement says cryptically that there will be a “daily limit” on such access for “some search engines.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    The New York Times' Paywall Gamble

    Howard Kurtz

    March 17, 2011

  • When Tiger finally did issue a statement, it said cryptically: “this will never happen again.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Tiger’s Troubles Deepen

    Lisa DePaulo

    December 2, 2009

  • But earlier this month McCain cryptically Twittered that the proposal "appears to be a cap & tax bill that I won't support."

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bush Comes Out of Hiding

    Matthew Yglesias

    May 29, 2009

Historical Examples of cryptically

  • “I am not anxious to see Miss McLeod,” he answered, cryptically.

  • I can do more accurate work with this than the machine gun, he said cryptically.

    The Fifth-Dimension Tube

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

  • "There is always a doubt about getting money back from syndicates," said McNorton cryptically.

    The Green Rust

    Edgar Wallace

  • You know rudely, quickly, cryptically, or anything like that.

  • "If more men were foolish, the world would get along a good deal better," said Aunt Jane cryptically.

    Aunt Jane

    Jennette Lee

British Dictionary definitions for cryptically




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 cryptically



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

Medicine definitions for cryptically




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.