Definition of cryptic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkriptik/


1Having a meaning that is mysterious or obscure: he found his boss’s utterances too cryptic
More example sentences
  • It is not that their conversations are obscure or cryptic.
  • She sings cryptic, mysterious lyrics, letting her voice guide the song.
  • We should be careful, because the Delphic Oracle used cryptic answers that often left the inquisitor more confused than helped.
enigmatic, mysterious, confusing, mystifying, perplexing, puzzling, obscure, abstruse, arcane, oracular, Delphic, ambiguous, elliptical, oblique
informal as clear as mud
1.1(Of a crossword) having difficult clues that indicate the solutions indirectly.
Example sentences
  • Conversations were like cryptic crossword clues.
  • A vexatious variant of the crossword is the cryptic crossword - just reading the clues to a cryptic crossword is enough to reduce whole swathes of the population to weeping and gibbering.
  • Anyone keen to learn the secrets of cryptic crosswords will find more than enough clues in this charming memoir, which traces Balfour's own growing fascination with puzzles.
2 Zoology (Of coloration or markings) serving to camouflage an animal in its natural environment.
Example sentences
  • Pelagic species appear to have converged on four major strategies for crypsis: transparency, mirroring, cryptic coloration, and counterillumination.
  • This shielding along with the cryptic coloration of the predator prevents the prey from becoming alarmed.
  • Female hummingbirds have more cryptic coloration than males, most likely so that they do not attract predators to the nest when incubating and feeding chicks.



Pronunciation: /ˈkriptək(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • On those occasions when we had to leave suddenly or silently on her account, my mother would flush with excitement and speak cryptically to me, her sentences spare and hurried.
  • When asked whether they were more important than his political career, he cryptically replied ‘Yes, of course.’
  • Its billboards typically featured postmodern designs in bright colors that depicted the pieces of a jigsaw, or single images with cryptically clever questions.


Early 17th century: from late Latin crypticus, from Greek kruptikos, from kruptos 'hidden'. sense 2 dates from the late 19th century.

Words that rhyme with cryptic

apocalyptic, diptych, elliptic, glyptic, styptic, triptych

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cryp·tic

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