Cha·​ryb·​dis | \ kə-ˈrib-dəs also shə- or chə- How to pronounce Charybdis (audio) \

Definition of Charybdis

: a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily personified in Greek mythology as a female monster — compare scylla

Did You Know?

The Strait of Messina is the narrow passage between the island of Sicily and the "toe" of Italy's "boot". In Greek mythology, two monsters hovered on either side of the strait. Scylla, a female monster with six snake-like heads, each with pointed teeth, barked like a dog from the rocks on the Italian side. Charybdis, on the Sicilian side, caused a whirlpool by swallowing the waters of the sea three times a day. When Odysseus attempted to sail between them, he encountered disaster on both sides. Being caught between Scylla and Charybdis is a lot like being between a rock and a hard place.

First Known Use of Charybdis

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Charybdis

Latin, from Greek

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The first known use of Charybdis was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Charybdis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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