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enigma

[uh-nig-muh] /əˈnɪg mə/
noun, plural enigmas; Chiefly Archaic, enigmata
[uh-nig-muh-tuh] /əˈnɪg mə tə/ (Show IPA)
1.
a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation:
His disappearance is an enigma that has given rise to much speculation.
2.
a person of puzzling or contradictory character:
To me he has always been an enigma, one minute completely insensitive, the next moved to tears.
3.
a saying, question, picture, etc., containing a hidden meaning; riddle.
4.
(initial capital letter) a German-built enciphering machine developed for commercial use in the early 1920s and later adapted and appropriated by German and other Axis powers for military use through World War II.
Origin
1530-1540
1530-40; < Latin aenigma < Greek aínigma, equivalent to ainik- (stem of ainíssesthai to speak in riddles, derivative of aînos fable) + -ma noun suffix of result
Synonyms
1. problem. See puzzle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for enigma
  • But what, exactly, is unclear-a mystery batter-dipped in an enigma.
  • This game is indeed an enigma at times.
  • The world is an enormous enigma that science is solving gradually.
  • The brain is still an enigma.
  • Photo detective work could solve an enigma nearly nine decades old.
  • Beware the brooding enigma who suddenly shows up smiling.
  • He is a fascinating enigma on the printed page.
  • So far, in terms of policy, he has been something of an enigma.
  • Talk about an enigma wrapped in a riddle.
  • To be more specific, when one first meets the heroine she does not even have a name, and her past is a total enigma.
British Dictionary definitions for enigma

enigma

/ɪˈnɪɡmə/
noun
1.
a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous
Derived Forms
enigmatic (ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk), enigmatical, adjective
enigmatically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin aenigma, from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable, story
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for enigma
n.

1580s, earlier enigmate (mid-15c.), from Latin aenigma "riddle," from Greek ainigma (plural ainigmata), from ainissesthai "speak obscurely, speak in riddles," from ainos "fable, riddle," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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enigma in Technology

hardware, cryptography
The electro-mechanical cipher engine used by the Germans in World War II. Many of their messages were deciphered at Bletchley Park, by Alan Turing and others.
(2000-09-30)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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