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When asked what he gained most from Buddhism, the Dalai Lama mysteriously and enigmatically simply held forth a flower. This enigmatic and puzzling response is confusing but forces us to examine it carefully. Enigmas or riddles abound not only in religious matters, but also throughout the humanities. Who hasn’t seen the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic expression and wondered what makes her smile so obscurely and teasingly?

Quiz: What is an example of something that is enigmatic?

  • A child’s hearty laughter that causes everyone around them to laugh as well.
  • An ancient stone structure for which historians can find no purpose or meaning.
  • A popular new dance club that is attracting local celebrities and politicians.

Memory Hook

Ben the Pig Not Automatic Although Ben the Pig may seem simple on the surface, snarfing down his food every day in true piggy fashion, Ben the Pig can also be enigmatic because he automatically says "thank you" when you bring him his food, and we all know that pigs can't talk.


  • As enigmatic as he is charismatic, Bora is 'the best coach I've ever played for,' says former U.S. defender Alexi Lalas, 'and the most frustrating coach I've ever played for.' —Sports Illustrated
  • The ape’s enigmatic fossils, first discovered in the 1960s near the village of Moroto, consist of a jutting jaw and primitive teeth that resemble those of other early apes, but the vertebrae are strikingly advanced. —BNET
  • Silvery and enigmatic, the Mercedes-Benz museum sits just off the B14 highway as it dips into a gentle fold of the Neckar Valley. —Los Angeles Times

Word Ingredients

enigmat obscure saying, riddle
-ic nature of, like

Anything enigmatic has “the nature of an obscure saying or riddle.”

Word Theater

YouTube: Join the Synergy (James Spader - Red as an Enigmatic Character) The character and the plot are enigmatic.

Word Constellation


Word Variants

enigma n puzzle; mystery; riddle