Ou·​ro·​bo·​ros | \ ˌju̇r-ō-ˈbȯr-əs How to pronounce Ouroboros (audio) \
variants: or ouroboros or less commonly Uroboros or uroboros

Definition of Ouroboros

1 : a circular symbol that depicts a snake or dragon devouring its own tail and that is used especially to represent the eternal cycle of destruction and rebirth
2 usually ouroboros or less commonly uroboros : something (such as a never-ending cycle) that is likened to or suggestive of the Ouroboros symbol Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before.— Junot Díaz But as Hollywood continues its transformation into a reboot ouroboros of unoriginal ideas, I have a tiny bit of fear that these projects will be disasters.— Miles Surrey

First Known Use of Ouroboros

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for Ouroboros

borrowed from Late Greek ourobóros "devouring (its) tail" (modifying drákōn "dragon, snake") from Greek ourá "tail" + -o- + -boros, nominal derivative from the base of bibrṓskein "to eat, eat up, devour" — more at ass entry 2, voracious

Learn More About Ouroboros

Time Traveler for Ouroboros

Time Traveler

The first known use of Ouroboros was in 1921

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near Ouroboros



Ouro Prêto

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for Ouroboros

Cite this Entry

“Ouroboros.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ouroboros. Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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