from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A riddle in which a fanciful question is answered by a pun.
  • noun A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A conceit; a device; a hoax.
  • noun A riddle in which some odd resemblance is proposed for discovery between things quite unlike, or some odd difference between similar things, the answer often involving a pun.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A kind of riddle based upon some fanciful or fantastic resemblance between things quite unlike; a puzzling question, of which the answer is or involves a pun.
  • noun A question to which only a conjectural answer can be made.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A difficult question or riddle, especially one using a play on words in the answer.
  • noun A difficult choice or decision that must be made.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a difficult problem


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

A word of unknown origin, probably coined in burlesque imitation of scholastic Latin, as “hocus-pocus” or “panjandrum.”


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  • Ugly word.

    December 3, 2006

  • Not so.

    December 3, 2006

  • I like this word, it flows well off the tongue.

    December 3, 2006

  • Martin Cunningham forgot to give us his spellingbee conundrum this morning.

    Joyce, Ulysses, 7

    January 2, 2007

  • I laughed so hard hearing this word used by one of the Venture Bros.'s villains. When used in the right situations, it can be so amusing!

    July 12, 2008

  • (in reply to 'ugly word' comment) Sorta drives home the meaning. It's a WIN.

    December 23, 2008

  • ???????

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    January 15, 2012

  • معما

    October 31, 2015