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[mi-steer-ee-uh s] /mɪˈstɪər i əs/
full of, characterized by, or involving mystery:
a mysterious occurrence.
implying or suggesting a mystery:
a mysterious smile.
of obscure nature, meaning, origin, etc.; puzzling; inexplicable:
a mysterious inscription on the ancient tomb.
Origin of mysterious
1610-20; mystery1 + -ous
Related forms
mysteriously, adverb
mysteriousness, noun
quasi-mysterious, adjective
quasi-mysteriously, adverb
unmysterious, adjective
unmysteriously, adverb
unmysteriousness, noun
1. secret, esoteric, occult, cryptic. Mysterious, inscrutable, mystical, obscure refer to that which is not easily comprehended or explained. That which is mysterious, by being unknown or puzzling, excites curiosity, amazement, or awe: a mysterious disease. Inscrutable applies to that which is impenetrable, so enigmatic that one cannot interpret its significance: an inscrutable smile. That which is mystical has a secret significance, such as that attaching to certain rites or signs: mystical symbols. That which is obscure is discovered or comprehended dimly or with difficulty: obscure motives. 3. unfathomable, unintelligible, incomprehensible, enigmatic, impenetrable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mysterious
  • Stunning new images reveal the marvelous and mysterious world inside our heads.
  • Yet the mysterious poems were anything but sweet.
  • Cougars are large, charismatic, mysterious predators.
  • But there is another thing called dark energy, which is even more mysterious which no one really can get a hand on yet.
  • At a once-famous resort, a mysterious elixir causes strange things to happen to the people who drink it.
  • My guess is that the more we learn about the universe, the more mysterious it will become.
  • Students are presented with a set of mysterious events.
  • It surely would have accelerated understanding of the universe by its very mysterious and dominating character.
  • Even more mysterious was his passion for flowers.
  • His creation might easily have gone from mysterious masterpiece to just another painting of a smiling woman.
British Dictionary definitions for mysterious


characterized by or indicative of mystery
puzzling, curious, or enigmatic
Derived Forms
mysteriously, adverb
mysteriousness, noun
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 mysterious

1610s, "full of mystery," from Latin mysterium (see mystery (n.1)) + -ous. Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness. Earlier in same sense was mysterial (early 15c.), from Late Latin mysterialis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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