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

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.
See also: riddle, talk

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.
See also: 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.
See also: riddle

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!
See also: riddle, that, this

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

or

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.'
See also: riddle, talk

talk (or speak) in riddles

express yourself in an ambiguous or puzzling manner.
See also: riddle, talk

be ˈriddled with something

be full of something, especially something bad or unpleasant: His body was riddled with cancer.Her typing was slow and riddled with mistakes.
See also: riddle, something

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