riddle

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a riddle wrapped in an enigma

That which is so dense and secretive as to be totally indecipherable or impossible to foretell. It is a shortened version of a line used by Winston Churchill to describe the intentions and interests of Russia in 1939: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." Many versions, variations, and appropriations of the quote, its structure, and its meaning have since been in use. I can't make any sense of this calculus textbook, it's like a riddle wrapped in an enigma. I just don't have any idea what Mary expects from me; she's a riddle wrapped in an enigma.
See also: enigma, riddle, wrap

a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

That which is so dense and secretive as to be totally indecipherable or impossible to foretell. It is from a line used by Winston Churchill to describe the intentions and interests of Russia in 1939: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." Many versions, variations, and appropriations of the quote, its structure, and its meaning have since been in use. Political campaigns make my head hurt. They're just a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
See also: enigma, inside, wrap

riddle someone or something with something

to fill someone or something with small holes, such as bullet holes. Max pulled the trigger of the machine gun and riddled Lefty with holes. The police riddled the wall with holes trying to shoot the escaped convict in the house.
See also: riddle

talk in riddles

to talk in a way that is difficult to understand
Usage notes: A riddle is a difficult and confusing description of something.
She keeps talking in riddles, instead of just coming out and saying what she means.
See also: riddle, talk

riddle with

v.
1. To pierce something in many places, especially with bullets or some other projectile: The troops riddled the side of the tank with gunfire.
2. To be permeated with some kind of puncture or hole. Used in the passive: The side of the house was riddled with bullet holes.
3. To be permeated in many places by something, especially by flaws. Used in the passive: That report was riddled with errors.
See also: riddle
References in classic literature ?
Then they told her that they had become the servants of the Dragon for seven long years, and how he had given them money as plentifully as blackberries; but as they had signed their names they were his, unless when the seven years had passed they could guess a riddle.
When the Dragon comes, I will ask him what the riddle is, for he tells me everything; then listen carefully what he answers.
They are mine,' answered the Dragon scornfully, 'for I shall only give them one riddle which they will never be able to guess.
He told them how the Dragon had been outwitted by his grandmother, and how he had heard from his own lips the answer to the riddle.
There,' said Eugene, looking after him dubiously as he paced away to the other end of the room, 'you put me again upon guessing the riddle that I have given up.
Don't let us sing Fal la, my dear Mortimer (which is comparatively unmeaning), but let us sing that we give up guessing the riddle altogether.
Prominent Queensland biotechnologist, Dr Peter Riddles, has been appointed a part-time member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Board.
The thesis of this study (to repeat myself) is that riddles are, amongst other things, ways of ironising the world; and adding an answer to an unsolved riddle does not resolve away such irony.
Of the many changes, my concern in this paper is changes deemed to affect the African oral literature, specifically, the riddles.
You open the door first' and 'you open your eyes first' have both been accepted as answers by those posing the riddles on Facebook.
This collection of fairly well-known riddles may well appeal to the young reader developing this appreciation of puns and clever questions.
She says he tells me the riddles because he wants to impress me.
Andrew and Feelo must muster a chip's crew and solve riddles to find this secret buried treasure, however.
Summary: Ramadan Riddles will make their way back to television screens during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan and will be presented by Lebanese signer Mariam Fares
From brain teasers to head-scratching riddles, Carrie Brown has made a good attempt at presenting riddles and jokes which are morally clean and normally simple enough for older children and adults to enjoy.