noun (plural conundrums)
- Children with recurrent abdominal pain present a difficult conundrum for doctors.
- For the environmentalists, there was no getting around this difficult conundrum.
- Other than that, it can be something of a difficult ethical conundrum for somebody.
- Fortunately the answer to the conundrum came into reach as we shuffled along.
- Later on he successfully puzzled over the riddles of some bawdy conundrums.
- I can't seem to see a clear answer for this conundrum and therefore it sidetracks me and taunts me.
Late 16th century: of unknown origin, but first recorded in a work by Thomas Nashe, as a term of abuse for a crank or pedant, later coming to denote a whim or fancy, also a pun. Current senses date from the late 17th century.
The origin of conundrum is itself a conundrum. In 1596 the English political writer Thomas Nashe used it as a term of abuse for a crank or pedant: ‘So will I…drive him to confess himself a Conundrum, who now thinks he hath learning enough to prove the salvation of Lucifer.’ The word later came to refer both to a whim and a pun. The current sense of ‘a riddle or puzzle’ dates from the late 17th century.
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