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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.
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.
be riddled with (something)
To be full of or consumed with something. Your proposal was completely unrealistic and riddled with flaws—that's why it was rejected. He is still riddled with guilt over the car accident he caused last month.
slang The act of urinating. The phrase comes from rhyming slang in which "Jimmy Riddle" rhymes with "piddle" (a slang term for "urinate"). Primarily heard in UK. Those three cups of coffee are catching up with me. Be right back, I'm off to have a Jimmy Riddle.
riddle (someone or something) with (something)
To perforate someone or something in many places, as with bullets. Often used in passive constructions. Attackers riddled the detective's house with bullets as a warning to stop her investigation. Buildings were riddled with debris from the airplane that had exploded miles above the city.
riddle me this/that
Used to humorously or sarcastically emphasize a question that undercuts another person's self-assuredness. One uses "this" when the phrase comes before the question and "that" when it comes after. Adapted from the catchphrase of The Riddler, a villain character in the Batman universe of comics, films, and video games. You act like you have it all figured out, but riddle me this: How are we supposed to get that much cash in less then a day? Besides, if you quit your job, how are you going to pay for all these plans, huh? Riddle me that!
talk in riddles
To speak in a (perhaps intentionally) convoluted way. That record store clerk is like some kind of magic gnome who talks in riddles. He never gives a straight answer when you ask a question about something.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
talk in riddlesor
speak in riddles
If someone talks in riddles or speaks in riddles, they talk in a slightly strange, or mysterious way and it is not clear what they mean. Stop talking in riddles and tell me what you're getting at! `What did she mean by that?' `You know what Judy is like. She often speaks in riddles.'
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
talk (or speak) in riddlesexpress yourself in an ambiguous or puzzling manner.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
be ˈriddled with somethingbe full of something, especially something bad or unpleasant: His body was riddled with cancer. ♢ Her typing was slow and riddled with mistakes.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.