Etymology
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mystic (adj.)

late 14c., mistike, "spiritually allegorical, pertaining to mysteries of faith," from Old French mistique "mysterious, full of mystery" (14c.), or directly from Latin mysticus "mystical, mystic, of secret rites" (source also of Italian mistico, Spanish mistico), from Greek mystikos "secret, mystic, connected with the mysteries," from mystes "one who has been initiated" (see mystery (n.1)).

Meaning "pertaining to occult practices or ancient religions" is recorded by 1610s. That of "hidden from or obscure to human knowledge or comprehension" is by 1630s.

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mystic (n.)

"exponent of mystical theology, one who accepts or preaches some form of mysticism," 1670s, from mystic (adj.). In Middle English, the noun meant "symbolic meaning, interpretation" (early 14c.).

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mystical (adj.)

late 15c., "enigmatic, obscure, symbolic," from mystic + -al (1). Meaning "having spiritual significance" is from 1520s. Related: Mystically.

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mystique (n.)

1891, "atmosphere of mystery and veneration," from French mystique "a mystic; mystical," from Latin mysticus (see mystic (adj.)).

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mystify (v.)

1798, "to make obscure, obscure the meaning of;" 1814, "perplex purposely," from French mystifier (1772), a verb formed irregularly from mystique "mysterious" (see mystic (adj.)) + -fier "to make" (see -fy). Related: Mystified; mystifying.

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mysticism (n.)

"any mode of thought or life in which reliance is placed upon a spiritual illumination believed to transcend ordinary powers of understanding," 1736, from mystic (adj.) + -ism. Often especially in a religious sense, and since the Enlightenment a term of reproach, implying self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought.

Mysticism and rationalism represent opposite poles of theology, rationalism regarding the reason as the highest faculty of man and the sole arbiter in all matters of religious doctrine; mysticism, on the other hand, declaring that spiritual truth cannot be apprehended by the logical faculty, nor adequately expressed in terms of the understanding. [Century Dictionary]
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Shriner (n.)
1882, a member of the Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (established 1872).
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orgiastic (adj.)

"pertaining to or characteristic of the mystic festivals of ancient Greece; characterized by wild revelry, frantically enthusiastic," 1690s, from Latinized form of Greek orgiastikos "fit for orgies, exciting," from orgiastes "one who celebrates orgies," from orgiazein "to celebrate orgies," from orgia "secret religous rites or customs" (see orgy).

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cabbala (n.)

"Jewish mystic philosophy," 1520s, also quabbalah, etc., from Medieval Latin cabbala, from Mishnaic Hebrew qabbalah "reception, received lore, tradition," especially "tradition of mystical interpretation of the Old Testament," from qibbel "to receive, admit, accept." Compare Arabic qabala "he received, accepted." Hence "any secret or esoteric science." Related: Cabbalist.

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mysterious (adj.)

1610s, "full of mystery, obscure, not revealed or explained," from Latin mysterium (see mystery (n.1)) + -ous. Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness. Earlier in same sense was mysterial (early 15c.), from Late Latin mysterialis.

Mysterious is the most common word for that which is unknown and excites curiosity and perhaps awe; the word is sometimes used where mystic would be more precise. Mystic is especially used of that which has been designed to excite and baffle curiosity, involving meanings in signs, rites, etc., but not with sufficient plainness to be understood by any but the initiated. [Century Dictionary]
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm
[Cowper, from the "Olney Hymns," 1779]

Related: Mysteriously; mysteriousness.

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