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enigma

[ uh-nig-muh ]
/ əˈnɪg mə /
||

noun, plural e·nig·mas; Chiefly Archaic e·nig·ma·ta [uh-nig-muh-tuh] /əˈnɪg mə tə/.

a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation: His disappearance is an enigma that has given rise to much speculation.
a person of puzzling or contradictory character: To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.
a saying, question, picture, etc., containing a hidden meaning; riddle.
(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.

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Nearby words

enharmonic, enharmonic modulation, enhearten, eniac, enid, enigma, enigmatic, enigmatize, enisle, eniwetok, enjambment

Origin of enigma

1530–40; < Latin aenigma < Greek aínigma, equivalent to ainik- (stem of ainíssesthai to speak in riddles, derivative of aînos fable) + -ma noun suffix of result
SYNONYMS FOR enigma
1 problem. See puzzle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for enigmas

British Dictionary definitions for enigmas

enigma

/ (ɪˈnɪɡmə) /

noun

a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous
Derived Formsenigmatic (ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk) or enigmatical, adjectiveenigmatically, adverb

Word Origin for enigma

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

enigma


n.

1580s, earlier enigmate (mid-15c.), from Latin aenigma "riddle," from Greek ainigma (plural ainigmata), from ainissesthai "speak obscurely, speak in riddles," from ainos "fable, riddle," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper