- The definition of enigma is something or someone that is puzzling or a riddle.The word "enigma" first appeared in print in 1449. Its origins remain as mysterious as the word itself. It is likely to derive from the Latin ænigma, meaning a riddle, or the Greek, ainigma, which derives from the word ainissesthai, "to speak obscurely, speak in riddles."
An example of an enigma is the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
enigma definition by Webster's New World
- a perplexing, usually ambiguous, statement; riddle
- a perplexing, baffling, or seemingly inexplicable matter, person, etc.
Origin: Classical Latin aenigma ; from Classical Greek ainigma ; from ainissesthai, to speak in riddles ; from ainos, tale, story ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form ai-, oi-, meaningful speech from source uncertain or unknown; perhaps Middle Irish ōeth, oath
enigma definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- One that is puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable.
- A perplexing speech or text; a riddle.
Origin: Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai, ainig-, to speak in riddles, from ainos, fable.