also  shə-,
chə- How to pronounce Charybdis (audio)
: 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.

Examples of Charybdis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cliché and niche obscurity, the Scylla and Charybdis of in-group commentary, lie to either side of the role. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 30 Sep. 2023 One of the difficulties that Treasury faces in drafting the procedural guidance is navigating between the Scylla of high efficiency and the Charybdis of perfect accuracy. Marie Sapirie, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2023 Thanks to the Fed’s past monetary transgressions, it is left to choose between Scylla and Charybdis. Steve H. Hanke, National Review, 22 Mar. 2023 For many long minutes, those covering the show in real time were trapped between the Scylla and Charybdis of congratulatory awe and potentially backlash-provoking faux pas. Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb. 2023 Administrators must navigate a course between the Scylla of an expanding definition of hate speech on the left and the Charybdis of increasingly bold deployment of that speech on the right. Nina Burleigh, The New Republic, 10 Jan. 2023 Especially when contemplating prospects for life on distinctly alien worlds such as the ocean moons of the outer solar system, researchers must carefully navigate between these two interlinked hazards—the Scylla and Charybdis of astrobiology. Natalie Elliot, Scientific American, 16 July 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Charybdis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, from Greek

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near Charybdis

Cite this Entry

“Charybdis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on Charybdis

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!