Definition of cryptic in English:


Line breaks: cryp|tic
Pronunciation: /ˈkrɪptɪk


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.
1.1(Of a crossword) having difficult clues which indicate the solutions indirectly.
More 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: cryptic plumage is thought to minimize predation
More 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.


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



More 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.

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