Definition of enigma in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪˈnɪɡmə/


A person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand: Madeleine was still an enigma to him
More example sentences
  • His diaries record recurrent struggles to understand the enigma of his own personality, his spiritual emptiness and addictiveness.
  • One critic has said the film is: an enigma, as difficult to like as it is to dismiss.
  • After such a long struggle and the loss of her sons in unequal battles, she understands the enigma of life.
mystery, puzzle, riddle, conundrum, paradox, problem, unsolved problem, question, question mark, quandary, a closed book
informal poser, teaser, brain-teaser, stumper


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai 'speak allusively', from ainos 'fable'.

  • An enigma is now a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand, but it was originally a riddle, or an obscure speech. The word came from Latin, based on Greek ainissesthai, ‘to speak allusively’. See also riddle. One of the codes broken by the codebreakers at Bletchley during the Second World War was known as Enigma.

Words that rhyme with enigma

sigma, stigma

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: en¦igma

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