I am about to coin the word 'conundrous' because I needed it (and I think it deserves a place in the dictionary)!

I would like comments on what you think about using 'conundrous' in the context of a serious article. But if you can supply one or more adjectives that are synonymous with 'conundrous', that would also be the answer for me. :)

If there are none, I will be happy to accept close synonyms (here's the definition of conundrum in the sense that I'd like to use it)

I'm after the "difficult problem" (but not the "pun") synonymity. It's used to describe a word from an ancient text which is seemingly not in the dictionaries; hard to find information about.

There's enigmatic, but it's just a mystery for the moment; it's not something that is by definition mysterious.

There's elusive, but I think that carries the connotation of something forever escaping one's reach.

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    I think conundrous doesn't sound well; I prefer conundrummy or conundroumy, which are less pompous Jul 20, 2012 at 19:14
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    Google reveals that there are some occurrences of "conundral". Jul 20, 2012 at 19:26
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    @MarkBeadles, and also conundrical, which to me seems better language-wise but perhaps not in other aspects. Jul 20, 2012 at 19:56
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    @jwpat7, I can't help but feel that just adding -y or -ish is a last resort. Jul 20, 2012 at 19:57
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    @MarkBeadles, +1 for making at least consider trying stuff out in Google. Conundric has also been used, but that sounds a bit like geologic, simply experimental and a bit "off" ;p I know the dangers of going by search result counts - conundrous gives by far the most results now that I tried it, but all the results are hooey (which to a smartass could very well seem the adjective of the noun hooey). :) Jul 20, 2012 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


The Free Dictionary gives the word perplexing, which encompasses the following synonyms:

puzzling, complex, confusing, complicated, involved, hard, taxing, difficult, strange, weird, mysterious, baffling, bewildering, intricate, enigmatic, mystifying, inexplicable, thorny, paradoxical, unaccountable, knotty, labyrinthine

  • Thanks, as I finished the draft just now I considered "perplexing mere appendix of x" (as it appears as a mere mention (and an ambiguous one at that) at the end of a sentence, yet is vital to the account). Jul 20, 2012 at 22:31
  • I like it, it hints at the "getting stumped reading it" aspect of it. I'm leaning towards spelling it out as the "perplexing mere appendix (and ambiguously appended at that!), x," rather than trying to find the optimal single word adjective. Jul 20, 2012 at 22:40

Inscrutable is an extremely close synonym for the "difficult problem" definition.

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    That's pretty good. I looked it up. For me, it hints at impossibility, as do the two synonyms I provided. Am I wrong about that in this case? Jul 20, 2012 at 19:54
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    I don't think it carries implications of impossibility. An inscrutable thing can be difficult, even vexing, but not necessarily insurmountable.
    – Noah
    Jul 20, 2012 at 19:58

Puzzling. A conundrum is a puzzle or difficult problem, often a riddle. The word is pseudo-Latin; it was coined at Oxford in the 1590's according to OEtD. By 1790 its meaning had evolved to more or less what it is today.

  • The carborundum conundrum is a tough nut to crack.
    – tchrist
    Jan 12, 2014 at 4:53

I'm after the "difficult problem" (but not the "pun") synonymity. It's used to describe a word from an ancient text which is seemingly not in the dictionaries; hard to find information about.

IMO, obscure, arcane or esoteric might be a better fit than "conundrous".

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