The Globetrotter’s Glossary: Word of the Day is Cryptepistolary


Cryptepistolary (n. & v.)

Variables: Cryptepistle, Cryptepistoler.

Roots: Crypt & Epistolary. (Click on the links to find the meanings of the root words on Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Definition: Of relating to a letter or message—in sufferance or transition—written in cryptic codes, meant to be understood solely by the intended recipient (s), often in the instances of espionage, romance, or war. Take for instance Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Purloined Letter,” in which the letter, whose contents are never revealed, and therefore never understood, can be said to belong to an absolute realm of crypepistolary.

Example: Of the letters written by Emily Dickinson, three have been discovered among her papers. These—addressed to a “Master,” which some critics suggest was Rev. Wadsworth of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church—stand as artifacts of modern literary cryptepistolary, in which the meanings are often unclear and deeply contextual, which cannot be otherwise interpreted easily by the scholars of her work.


Coldnoon Bureau

Coldnoon Bureau

Coldnoon (International Journal of Travel Writing & Travelling Cultures) is a refereed, international and interdisciplinary online and print journal that publishes poetry, research papers and nonfiction on the subjects of travel, literary and human geography, psychogeography, and new perspectives on spatiality and travel.