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From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishmysterymys‧te‧ry1 /ˈmɪstəri/ ●●● W3 noun (plural mysteries)  1 [countable usually singular]MYSTERIOUS an event, situation etc that people do not understand or cannot explain because they do not know enough about it Twenty years after the event, his death remains a mystery. The way her mind worked was always a mystery to him. ‘Why did he do it?’ ‘I don’t know. It’s a complete mystery.’ The police never solved the mystery of Gray’s disappearance. But why would anyone want to kill Jack? The mystery deepened. What happened to the paintings after that is an unsolved mystery. I don’t know how he got the job – it’s one of life’s little mysteries. How life began on Earth is one of the great mysteries of science.2 [uncountable]MYSTERIOUS the quality that something or someone has when they seem strange, secret, or difficult to understand or explain Her dark glasses gave her an air of mystery. Annie knew that there was some mystery surrounding her birth.be shrouded/veiled in mystery The circumstances of his death were veiled in mystery.3 [countable usually plural] a subject, activity etc that is very complicated, secret, or difficult to understand, and that people want to learn aboutthe mysteries of something his introduction to the mysteries of the perfume business4 [countable] (also murder mystery) a story, film, or play about a murder, in which you are not told who the murderer is until the end an Agatha Christie mysteryCOLLOCATIONSMeaning 1: an event, situation etc that people do not understand or cannot explain because they do not know enough about itverbsbe a mysteryIt’s a mystery how he got my phone number.remain a mysteryWhat caused the accident remains a mystery.solve/unravel a mystery (=find out what happened)The children were given the clues and had to try to solve the mystery.the mystery deepens (=it becomes more difficult to understand)Why would he run away if he were not guilty? The mystery deepens.the mystery surrounding somethingResearch has unravelled much of the mystery surrounding the ageing process.adjectivesa complete/total mysteryShe said that her husband’s disappearance was a complete mystery.an unsolved mysteryWhat happened to her is still an unsolved mystery.a great mystery (=a big and important mystery)It is one of the great mysteries of science.a little/minor mysteryIt was a minor mystery how the file had survived the fire.a big mysteryIf they are right, they have solved one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy.phrasessomething is one of life’s (little) mysteries (=it is something that you will never understand – used humorously)Where socks disappear to after they’ve been washed is one of life’s little mysteries.
COLLOCATIONSMeaning 2: the quality that something or someone has when they seem strange, secret, or difficult to understand or explainverbsbe shrouded/veiled in mystery (=be unable to be explained)The origins of this tradition remain shrouded in mystery.mystery surrounds something (=something cannot be explained)Mystery has always surrounded the purpose of the great stone circle of Stonehenge.adjectivesdeep mystery (=big and important mystery)the deep mystery of the human mindgreat mysteryWe wondered about the great mystery of death.phrasesan element of mystery (=part of something that seems mysterious)There is an element of mystery and miracle in the process.an air of mystery (=something that seems mysterious)There was an air of mystery about him.a sense of mystery (=a feeling that something is mysterious)The garden had hidden corners that gave it a sense of mystery.
Examples from the Corpus
mysteryThe writer's identity is a mystery, but he is thought to be Spanish.It's a mystery to me how Gayle managed to get here before us.You took the job with him simply to clear up a mystery.Ten firemen were in hospital with a mystery illness last night.In the subway one faced the eternal mystery of lust and desire.Collins creates a gripping picture of slow-moving, small-town life, and packs it into a treat of a murder mystery.Sue Grafton's mysteries sell very well.No one has ever been able to explain the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.As for the mystery guest, all I can say is it will be a magician in a box.Scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of human genes.Police are still trying to unravel the mystery of how the prisoner managed to escape.Corbett viewed the mystery as a logical problem.The mystery remains unresolved as twilight turns to total blackness.The mystery deepens as more witnesses come forward to tell different stories.remains a mysteryThe HubbellLippo connection remains a mystery.Southern cooking remains a mystery to most people outside the region.It remains a mystery whether Yeltsin knew about it and was deliberately obfuscating.And yet his emotional life remains a mystery to him.How much Crédit Lyonnais is owed by Pathe remains a mystery.But the president remains a mystery.This World Heritage Site remains a mystery.That remains a mystery to him.Beyond that, Weaver remains a mystery.air of mysteryYet not to do so gave the affair an air of mystery that he disliked.It gave an air of mystery and excitement to the rehearsals.Almost all Modigliani's portraits have an air of mystery which raises them above the level of the mundane.the mysteries of somethingMundin asks, inconvenienced and awed by the mysteries of the female body.These conditions embraced the realities of survival in an often hostile environment, and the mysteries of birth and death.They would prefer to keep the mysteries of nature as mysterious as possible.Strangely, never once did they mention the mysteries of Selkirk's and Ruthven's deaths.This faith was part of the mysteries of Eleusis.An old man, with clouds of white hair and dark, soulful eyes that had seen the mysteries of the universe.Take your first step to solving the mysteries of the Trail by filling in the form over the page.When scientists attempt to unravel the mysteries of the past they always run up against a brick wall.
mysterymystery2 adjective [only before noun]  used to describe someone or something that people do not recognize or know anything about, especially when this causes great interestmystery man/woman Who was the mystery woman spotted on board the yacht with the prince? a mystery virus
Examples from the Corpus
mystery man/womanA mystery woman bombarded Hendry's manager Ian Doyle's Stirling offices with venomous death threats by letter and phone.But he was apparently talked into selling it by a mystery man for just one pound.The mystery man John Huang seems to have worked rather unsuccessfully at the Lippo Bank, whatever that is.In any case, Gillian has invited a mystery man to share the cottage in Witham Friary, Somerset.A mystery man usually comes around to drop off a complimentary rose at extraordinary houses.Last week Mairead was convinced her mystery man was a footballer.
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