I. noun (plural -teries) Etymology: Middle English mysterie, from Latin mysterium, from Greek mystērion, from mystēs initiate Date: 14th century 1. a. a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand b. (1) any of the 15 events (as the Nativity, the Crucifixion, or the Assumption) serving as a subject for meditation during the saying of the rosary (2) capitalized a Christian sacrament; specifically Eucharist c. (1) a secret religious rite believed (as in Eleusinian and Mithraic cults) to impart enduring bliss to the initiate (2) a cult devoted to such rites 2. a. something not understood or beyond understanding ; enigma b. obsolete a private secret c. the secret or specialized practices or ritual peculiar to an occupation or a body of people <
the mysteries of the tailor's craft
d. a piece of fiction dealing usually with the solution of a mysterious crime 3. profound, inexplicable, or secretive quality or character <
the mystery of her smile
Synonyms: mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation <
the mystery of the stone monoliths
. problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern <
problems created by high technology
. enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret <
his suicide remains an enigma
. riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction <
the riddle of the reclusive pop star
. puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution <
the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police
. II. noun (plural -teries) Etymology: Middle English ministry, office, craft, from Anglo-French mesterie, from Late Latin misterium, mysterium, alteration of ministerium service, occupation, from minister servant — more at minister Date: 14th century 1. archaic trade, craft 2. archaic a body of persons engaged in a particular trade, business, or profession ; guild 3. mystery play

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


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