AskDefine | Define mystery

Dictionary Definition

mystery

Noun

1 something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained; "how it got out is a mystery"; "it remains one of nature's secrets" [syn: enigma, secret, closed book]
2 a story about a crime (usually murder) presented as a novel or play or movie [syn: mystery story, whodunit]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

Etymology

From mysterie < mysterium < (musterion) “a mystery, a secret, a secret rite” < (mustēs) “initiated one” < “I initiate” < (muō) “I shut”

Noun

  1. Something secret or unexplainable; unknown.
    The truth behind the events remains a mystery.
  2. Someone or thing with an obscure or puzzling nature.
    That man is a mystery.
  3. A truth that needs divine revelation.
  4. A particular sequence of events in the life of Christ.
  5. In the plural, in usage until the 18th century, the name given to different trades.

Synonyms

Related terms

Translations

something secret or unexplainable
Someone or thing with an obscure or puzzling nature

See also

Extensive Definition

Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term that is often used as a synonym of detective fiction — in other words a novel or short story in which a detective (either professional or amateur) solves a crime. The term "mystery fiction" may sometimes be limited to the subset of detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle element and its logical solution (cf. whodunit), as a contrast to hardboiled detective stories which focus on action and gritty realism. However, in more general usage "mystery" may be used to describe any form of crime fiction, even if there is no mystery to be solved. For example, the Mystery Writers of America describes itself as "the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre".
Although normally associated with the crime genre, the term "mystery fiction" may in certain situations refer to a completely different genre, where the focus is on supernatural mystery (even if no crime is involved). This usage was common in the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, where titles such as Dime Mystery, Thrilling Mystery and Spicy Mystery offered what at the time were described as "weird menace" stories – supernatural horror in the vein of Grand Guignol. This contrasted with parallel titles such as Dime Detective, Thrilling Detective and Spicy Detective, which contained conventional hardboiled crime fiction. The first use of "mystery" in this sense was by Dime Mystery, which started out as an ordinary crime fiction magazine but switched to "weird menace" during the latter part of 1933.

Beginnings

Many believe the first mystery story to be The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (1841), followed by The Woman in White (1860) by Wilkie Collins. Collins wrote several more in this genre, including The Moonstone (1868) which is thought to be his masterpiece. The genre began to expand near the turn of century with the development of dime novels and pulp magazines. Books were especially helpful to the genre with many authors writing in the genre in the 1920s. An important contribution to mystery fiction in the 1920s was the development of the juvenile mystery by Edward Stratemeyer. Stratemeyer originally developed and wrote the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries written under the Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene pseudonyms, respectively (and later written by his daughter, Harriet S. Adams, and other authors). The 1920s also gave rise to one of the most popular mystery authors of all time, Agatha Christie.
The massive popularity of pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s increased interest in mystery fiction. Pulp magazines decreased in popularity in the 1950s with the rise of television so much that the numerous titles available then are reduced to two today: Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The detective fiction author Ellery Queen (pseudonym of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) is also credited with continuing interest in mystery fiction.
Interest in mystery fiction continues to this day because of various television shows which have used mystery themes over the years and the many juvenile and adult novels which continue to be published. There is some overlap with "thriller" or "suspense" novels and authors in those genres may consider themselves mystery novelists. Comic books and graphic novels have carried on the tradition, and film adaptations have helped to re-popularize the genre in recent times.
The Mystery Writers of America, an organization for authors of mystery, detective, and crime fiction, was founded in 1945. This popular genre has made the leap into the online world, spawning countless websites devoted to every aspect of the genre, with even a few supposedly written by real detectives.http://privatedick.blogspot.com

Classifications

Mystery fiction can be divided into several categories, among them the 'cozy mystery,' 'police procedural,' 'hardboiled,' etc.

References

mystery in Indonesian: Misteri
mystery in Dutch: Mysterie
mystery in Norwegian: Mysteriefortelling
mystery in Portuguese: Mistério
mystery in Japanese: ミステリー

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Chinese puzzle, Grand Guignol, Marchen, Passion play, Tom show, Western, Western story, Westerner, adventure story, allegory, ambiguity, ambiguousness, anagoge, anagogics, anthroposophy, antimasque, apologue, arcanum, art, audience success, awesomeness, baffle, bafflement, baffling problem, ballet, bedtime story, beguilingness, bewilderment, bomb, bother, brain twister, brain-teaser, broadcast drama, burlesque show, business, cabala, cabalism, career, career building, careerism, ceremonial, ceremony, charade, classified information, cliff hanger, closet drama, comedy drama, confidence, confidential communication, confoundment, confusion, conundrum, craft, critical success, crossword puzzle, crux, dark horse, daytime serial, detective novel, detective story, dialogue, dilemma, discomposure, disconcert, disconcertedness, disconcertion, disconcertment, disturbance, documentary drama, drama, dramalogue, dramatic play, dramatic series, duodrama, duologue, duty, eeriness, elfdom, embarrassment, enchantingness, enigma, enigmatic question, enigmaticalness, enticingness, epic theater, esoterica, esotericism, esoterics, esoterism, esotery, experimental theater, extraordinariness, extravaganza, fable, fabliau, faerie, failure, fairy tale, fantasy, fascination, fiction, fix, floorer, flop, folk story, folktale, form, form of worship, formality, formula, formulary, frontier, frontiers of knowledge, function, game, gasser, gest, ghost story, giveaway, glamorousness, guarded secret, handicraft, happening, hermetics, hit, hit show, hocus-pocus, holy rite, horse opera, improvisational drama, indefinability, indefiniteness, inexplicability, inextricability, inscrutability, insolvability, institution, jam, jigsaw puzzle, knot, knotty point, legend, legitimate drama, lifework, line, line of business, line of work, liturgy, love story, marvelousness, masque, matter of ignorance, melodrama, metier, mind-boggler, minstrel show, miracle, miracle play, miraculousness, mission, mode of worship, monodrama, monologue, morality, morality play, mumbo jumbo, music drama, musical revue, mysteriousness, mystery of mysteries, mystery play, mystery story, mysticism, mystification, myth, mythology, mythos, n, nebulousness, nonplus, number, numinousness, nursery tale, nut to crack, obscurity, observance, occultism, occupation, office, opera, order of worship, ordinance, otherworldliness, pageant, panel show, pantomime, parable, pastoral, pastoral drama, perplexed question, perplexity, personal matter, perturbation, phenomenalness, pickle, piece, play, playlet, plight, poser, pother, practice, predicament, prescribed form, preternaturalism, private matter, privileged communication, privity, problem, problem play, prodigiousness, profession, profound secret, psychodrama, pursuit, puzzle, puzzlement, puzzler, quandary, question, question mark, quiz show, racket, radio drama, remarkableness, restricted information, review, revue, riddle, rite, ritual, ritual observance, rituality, romance, sacrament, sacramental, science fiction, scrape, sealed book, secrecy, secret, seductiveness, sensational play, serial, service, shocker, show, sitcom, situation comedy, sixty-four dollar question, sketch, skit, soap, soap opera, sociodrama, solemnity, space fiction, space opera, specialization, specialty, spectacle, stage play, stage show, stew, sticker, straight drama, stumper, stupendousness, success, superhumanity, supernaturalism, supernaturality, supernaturalness, supernature, supernormalness, superphysicalness, supersensibleness, supranaturalism, supranature, suspense drama, suspense story, symbolics, symbolism, tableau, tableau vivant, talk show, teleplay, television drama, television play, terra incognita, the incalculable, the occult, the strange, the supernatural, the supersensible, the unfamiliar, the unknowable, the unknown, theater of cruelty, thriller, total theater, tough proposition, trade, transcendentalism, unaccountableness, unassuredness, undefinability, unearthliness, unexplainableness, unexplored ground, unexplored territory, unknown quantity, unworldliness, upset, vagueness, variety show, vaudeville, vaudeville show, vehicle, vexed question, vocation, walk, walk of life, whodunit, why, witchery, wonderfulness, wondrousness, word-of-mouth success, work, work of fiction, x, yoga, yogeeism, yogism, z
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