Adventures in Etymology 10 – Enigmatic

Today we are looking at the word enigmatic [ˌen.ɪɡˈmæt.ɪk/ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk], a mysterious, puzzling, perplexing and inscrutable word that defies description.

Definition: “mysterious and impossible to understand completely” [source]. Or,“resembling an enigma, or a puzzling occurrence, situation, statement, person, etc.; perplexing; mysterious” [source].

enigmatic ayam

It comes from enigma (riddle; sth/sb puzzling, mysterious or inexplicable), from the Latin aenigma [ae̯ˈniɡ.ma] (riddle, allegory), from the Ancient Greek αἴνιγμα [ˈɛ.niɣ.ma] (riddle, taunt, ambush) from αἶνος [ˈɛ.nos] (story, fable, praise) [source], which is posibly the root of the name Αἰνείας / Aenēās, the trojan hero of the Aeneid, and legendary ancestor of Romans [source].

In Modern Greek αίνιγμα [ˈɛniɣma] means a riddle, puzzle or enigma, αινιγματικός [ɛniɣmatiˈkɔs] means enigmatic, mysterious, inscrutable, and αινιγματικότητα (ainigmatikótita) means obscurity.

Greek recordings made with:

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly – an easy-to-use animated video creator [affiliate link].

I also write about etymology on the Omniglot Blog.

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