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 one of the largest online literary magazines published from Asia. It has published authors from all over the world, largely from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, among others.