[ uh-nig-muh ]
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noun,plural e·nig·mas; Chiefly Archaic e·nig·ma·ta [uh-nig-muh-tuh]. /əˈnɪg mə tə/.
  1. a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation: His disappearance is an enigma that has given rise to much speculation.

  2. a person of puzzling or contradictory character: To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.

  1. a saying, question, picture, etc., containing a hidden meaning; riddle.

  2. (initial capital letter) a German-built enciphering machine developed for commercial use in the early 1920s and later adapted and appropriated by German and other Axis powers for military use through World War II.

Origin of enigma

First recorded in 1530–40; from Latin aenigma, from Greek aínigma, equivalent to ainik- (stem of ainíssesthai “to speak in riddles,” derivative of aînos fable) + -ma noun suffix of result

synonym study For enigma

1. See puzzle.

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How to use enigma in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for enigma


/ (ɪˈnɪɡmə) /

  1. a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous

Origin of enigma

C16: from Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable, story

Derived forms of enigma

  • enigmatic (ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk) or enigmatical, adjective
  • enigmatically, adverb

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