Main definitions of mystery in English

: mystery1mystery2

mystery1

nounmysteries

  • 1Something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.

    ‘the mysteries of outer space’
    ‘what happened after he left home that day remains a mystery’
    • ‘Contrary to public perceptions, science can help understand and explain the mysteries of emotion.’
    • ‘However all was explained and the mystery was solved very quickly.’
    • ‘The technique of the mystery is thus explained, but the mystery remains.’
    • ‘Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves.’
    • ‘All it requires is a flicker of disorientation, an unexpected jolt, or an encounter with a mystery too spooky to explain, and it's off.’
    • ‘I've left you a couple of phone messages and emails and assume that you will explain the mystery of the disappearing diaries to me at some point.’
    • ‘I wish someone would explain to me the mystery behind gas pricing.’
    • ‘Perhaps the dominant colour scheme will be amber and that explains the mystery.’
    • ‘Well I have no idea and I think the mystery will never be explained, but now do you see how easy it is for me to get mixed up.’
    • ‘And the trouble is that there does not seem to be any impartial source that can explain these mysteries to me, without having a personal agenda!’
    • ‘Indeed, his Japanese publisher has been so inundated by bemused readers that they have set up a website to explain some of the mysteries of the book.’
    • ‘The struggles of the American writer to explain the deep mysteries of the British character are pure joy.’
    • ‘Two leading theories explain the population mystery.’
    • ‘I cannot explain the mystery of what went wrong.’
    • ‘That lack of success has always been something of a mystery, and there are various unproven hypotheses to explain away the mystery.’
    • ‘Science has gained much through the years but has stopped short in its attempts to understand the ultimate mystery of life.’
    • ‘Many theories have been given to explain the extraordinary mystery of these missing ships and planes.’
    • ‘And yet we never cease trying to explain the mystery of sport: why it means so much to so many and why we are so curious about those who succeed at it.’
    • ‘When we came to understand the customs of this extraordinary people the mystery was explained.’
    • ‘They're looking to solve the mystery, and there are a lot of questions that are unanswered right now.’
    puzzle, enigma, conundrum, riddle, secret, unsolved problem, problem, question, question mark, closed book
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1mass noun Secrecy or obscurity.
      ‘much of her past is shrouded in mystery’
      • ‘The Valley was wedged in-between the two countries, being obscured in mystery and darkness and confusion.’
      • ‘Ambassadors used to have a scent of mystery, secrecy and even of romance about them.’
      • ‘In the days when he worked for the CIA, the agency was shrouded in secrecy and cloaked in mystery.’
      • ‘Somehow, the town itself, retains its air of mystery, and mediaeval ambience, despite the cell phone shops, supermarket, and mini shopping mall opposite the car park.’
      • ‘The creation of life in general and of the human person in particular is a thing we can know a little about, but also a thing which is shrouded in impenetrable mystery.’
      • ‘The subject is surrounded in mystery, superstition, secrecy, and most interesting of all, real magic!’
      • ‘The pseudonyms gave the sisters an aura of mystery and secrecy, so much so that some readers believed that all three were one person or that they were males.’
      • ‘The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding.’
      • ‘For as long as I can remember, there is a beautiful altar cut from the rocky face of a heavily wooded hill, which shelters this place and gives it its air of seclusion and mystery.’
      • ‘Beyond that, as they say, it is shrouded in mystery.’
      • ‘Already sales of the book are going well and Kieran is confident that once again children will lap-up the air of mystery and suspense surrounding his books.’
      • ‘I just don't see any justification for an air of mystery here.’
      • ‘Yet, the air of mystery surrounding each character never dissipates, even after the last line of each monologue is spoken.’
      • ‘If I've ever had an air of mystery, it's by default.’
      • ‘He says that its origins ‘have long been shrouded in mystery and controversy.’’
      • ‘What keeps people hunting these things is the air of mystery that surrounds them - which is all too easily dispelled.’
      • ‘They maintain an air of mystery by wearing masks or hoods.’
      • ‘The book's jacket says only that he ‘lives off the grid’, which presumably is intended to create an air of mystery.’
      • ‘He exudes an air of shyness, mystery and slight menace - not to be confused, say colleagues, with sophistication.’
      • ‘The exact fate of the 45 people on board is shrouded in mystery.’
      secrecy, darkness, obscurity, ambiguity, ambiguousness, uncertainty, impenetrability, vagueness, nebulousness
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    2. 1.2A person or thing whose identity or nature is puzzling or unknown.
      ‘‘He's a bit of a mystery,’ said Nina’
      as modifier ‘a mystery guest’
      • ‘I quickly went over to the desk and starting sifting through the papers, looking for a clue to the identity of our mystery guest.’
      • ‘Looks like our mystery guest blogger decided to reveal his true identity.’
      • ‘Click here for the identity of the mystery candidate.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the identity of the mystery investor in Indigo whose bearish actions led to a dramatic fall in the company's share price has been uncovered.’
      • ‘The identity of the mystery speaker was never revealed.’
      • ‘Police are beginning door-to-door inquiries in an increasingly intense search for clues to the identity of a mystery body.’
      • ‘Her anger increased when she found out the mystery caller's identity.’
      • ‘A further clarification of the mystery man's identity still elicited a blank response.’
      • ‘Blackpool have yet to reveal the identity of the mystery man who came so close to signing last week.’
      • ‘She opened her eyes, and at last the mystery guy's identity was known.’
      • ‘A phone call later confirmed the identity of the mystery ingredient, but staff should be briefed on this at the start of the day.’
      • ‘The identity of the mystery card is then revealed and the player with the card closest in the deck wins.’
      • ‘We've also had concerned correspondents in France baffled over the identity of our mystery poet.’
      • ‘But with their identities still a mystery, speculation that drugs bosses might have sanctioned the gruesome deaths began to fade.’
      • ‘In the early 20th century this prolific New Zealand author's identity was a mystery.’
      • ‘Police said his identity was still a mystery because there were no identification documents on him.’
      • ‘There will be a disco from 9 pm to midnight and a mystery guest will do the honours in presenting the medals.’
      • ‘Once inside, you can set about figuring out who the mystery guests are.’
      • ‘A re-opening will take place on Saturday, June 25 with a mystery celebrity guest.’
      • ‘‘Once in a while I'd have a mystery guest,’ muses the Hollywood star.’
  • 2A novel, play, or film dealing with a puzzling crime, especially a murder.

    ‘the 1920s murder mystery, The Ghost Train’
    • ‘Thrillers, mysteries and crime novels are perennial favorites for summertime reading.’
    • ‘Further compounding the peril is the fact that this is basically a murder mystery, a whodunit with slasher overtones.’
    • ‘The story is a fairly set piece murder mystery, or murder thriller.’
    • ‘A murder mystery, the film, however, has a clear storyline and characters.’
    • ‘It is not a thriller or a mystery or an action film or a crime film, nor any kind of ordinary drama or melodrama.’
    • ‘He may be writing a murder mystery, but his novel is primarily concerned with the nature of small-town America and its particular manners and morals.’
    • ‘It's better approached as a comedy than a murder mystery.’
    • ‘If you enjoy police dramas or murder mysteries, chances are you will enjoy this.’
    • ‘Imagine Eliot then as the villain in a murder mystery.’
    • ‘The play now becomes a whodunit murder mystery.’
    • ‘This is easily the weakest entry of the four, a murder mystery that all but gives away the solution just minutes into the film.’
    • ‘But also, it's a murder mystery, and there may be a ghost, and also a zombie in it.’
    • ‘It's science fiction all right, but it's also a character study and a murder mystery.’
    • ‘That is why the author, named I in my book, which is also a murder mystery, is dead, and always has been.’
    • ‘Why make things more complicated by turning it into a murder mystery?’
    • ‘This mystery is a traditional whodunnit, but with a serious vein of social commentary running through it.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, Emerson says he's amused by the number of people who tell him they think writing mysteries and thrillers must be a very exciting job.’
    • ‘Layered fictions aren't always murder mysteries, of course.’
    • ‘Still, a great lead performance and some dazzling visuals will please fans of old-fashioned murder mysteries.’
    • ‘It's just another in a long line of rather simple murder mysteries.’
    thriller, detective novel, detective story, murder story
    View synonyms
  • 3mysteriesThe secret rites of Greek and Roman pagan religion, or of any ancient or tribal religion, to which only initiates are admitted.

    • ‘His Protrepticus is a copious source of information about the Greek mysteries, though his wish to represent them as a perversion of Scriptural teachings must have led to misrepresentation.’
    • ‘With folded hands, Ashoka begged enlightenment and initiation into the mysteries of the Dharma of Samudra.’
    • ‘The two strangers are not serious; there are jests at the mysteries which precede the enthronement, and he is being initiated into the mysteries of the sophistical ritual.’
    • ‘This does not necessarily mean that Euripides was an initiate of Dionysian mysteries, or that his portrayal of the god's worshippers (the Maenads) is an honest one.’
    • ‘Egyptian mystery religion is basically Greco-Roman mysteries, a series of initiation rites.’
    • ‘I think the exact make-up of the triune goddess depended on what city you came from and what mysteries you were initiated in, as well as period as Anna points out.’
    • ‘It is a Hindu doctrine Movement, to teach the Universal Law of Creation, revealed by ancient Christian mysteries.’
    • ‘Whether or not the bull, tauros, is Dionysius in one of his forms, there is no doubt that the performers link the ritual to the old pagan mysteries.’
    • ‘Someone who has knowledge of religious or spiritual mysteries is sometimes called a hierophant.’
    • ‘This was the institution of mysteries, with hierophants (chief priests) and torch-bearers complete.’
    • ‘Well your interest in the mysteries, rather than in the codified beliefs of religion would put you very nicely in the world of the transcendentalists.’
    • ‘To prove its existence in ancient religion he cites the famous passage from Plotinus's Enneads, that initiates of the mysteries must enter them naked.’
    • ‘Those initiated into the satanic mysteries were all given some sort of physical mark, such as a claw mark under the left eye.’
    1. 3.1The practices, skills, or lore peculiar to a particular trade or activity and regarded as baffling to those without specialized knowledge.
      ‘the mysteries of analytical psychology’
      • ‘To judge of the perfection of debtors by the numerosity of their creditors is the readiest way for entering into the mysteries of practical arithmetic.’
      • ‘Indian nuclear scientists say they have unpeeled one of the great mysteries of the soft-drinks trade - how to extract juice from bananas cheaply and simply.’
      • ‘It is, I think, true to say that many practising accountants no longer try to unravel the mysteries of the legislation by reading its provisions.’
      • ‘For women, discussions of technique might unlock some mysteries.’
      • ‘David Newble attempts to unravel the mysteries behind local government finance.’
      • ‘It also explains how the buildings were built and rebuilt, and unravels the mysteries of how political, design and engineering obstacles were overcome.’
      • ‘Those present at the ceremony in London will include William Aitken, a customer service manager for the Inland Revenue in Irvine, commended for explaining the mysteries of tax.’
      • ‘I was hoping today to write about quantum gravity, after once and for all explaining the mysteries of quantum mechanics in the previous post.’
      • ‘There we all were, craning our white-hatted heads in close to watch while our teacher explained the mysteries of making sausages.’
      • ‘Without the use of Einstein's theories the mysteries of atomic power may still be evading man today.’
    2. 3.2archaic The Christian Eucharist.
  • 4Christian Theology
    A religious belief based on divine revelation, especially one regarded as beyond human understanding.

    ‘the mystery of Christ’
    • ‘Trinity Sunday celebrates the belief in the incomprehensible mystery of God, not only as Spirit, but also as God creator and God incarnate.’
    • ‘For a Christian, the answer is in the incarnation: because the divine mystery is made flesh.’
    • ‘In him, we can see the ultimate mystery of God in human form.’
    • ‘It is the Spirit who inspires our praise of God and brings us into the divine life, that is, into the mystery of God revealed in Christ.’
    • ‘It's up to us preachers, ministers, stewards of the mysteries of Christ, to make that transaction.’
    1. 4.1An incident in the life of Jesus or of a saint as a focus of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, especially each of those commemorated during recitation of successive decades of the rosary.
      ‘the first Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden’
      • ‘Walking through the Stations of the Cross or praying the rosary is another way to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus.’
      • ‘In that letter, he added five new mysteries to the rosary, and declared that his twenty-fifth anniversary year would be known as the Year of the Rosary.’
      • ‘Does he promulgate new mysteries for the Rosary?’
      • ‘Leaks from the Vatican, in anticipation of the document's release, suggest that the Pope will introduce five new mysteries to the Rosary.’
      • ‘This is the fourth of the new mysteries of the rosary.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘mystic presence, hidden religious symbolism’): from Old French mistere or Latin mysterium, from Greek mustērion; related to mystic.

Pronunciation

mystery

/ˈmɪst(ə)ri/

Main definitions of mystery in English

: mystery1mystery2

mystery2

nounmysteries

archaic
  • A handicraft or trade, especially when referred to in indentures.

Origin

Late Middle English from medieval Latin misterium, contraction of ministerium ‘ministry’, by association with mysterium (see mystery).

Pronunciation

mystery

/ˈmɪst(ə)ri/