enigmatic

[ en-ig-mat-ik, ee-nig- ]
/ ˌɛn ɪgˈmæt ɪk, ˌi nɪg- /

adjective

resembling an enigma, or a puzzling occurrence, situation, statement, person, etc.; perplexing; mysterious: She has a perpetually enigmatic expression on her face. This is the most enigmatic book I have ever read!
Also en·ig·mat·i·cal.

Origin of enigmatic

1620–30; < Late Latin aenigmaticus < Greek ainigmatikós, equivalent to ainigmat- (stem of aínigma) enigma + -ikos -ic

Related forms

Synonym study

Word story

Enigmatic has always meant “ambiguous, obscure, perplexing” since the adjective entered English in the 17th century. This word comes from the Latin adjective aenigmaticus, from the Greek adjective ainigmatikós, a derivative of the Greek noun aínigma (stem ainigmat- ) “a dark saying, riddle, taunt.”
Aínigma (the direct source of English enigma , meaning “a riddle or puzzling situation”) is a derivative of the verb ainíssesthai “to speak in words full of content,” then “to speak in words difficult to understand,” and finally “to speak in riddles,” a progression in meaning that seems very apt in modern life. Ainíssesthai is a derivative of the noun aînos, “tale, story” in Homer, then “meaningful words, praise, tale with a moral, fable, riddle.” This little family of Greek words, like 60 percent of Greek vocabulary, has no known etymology.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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