Scyl·​la | \ ˈsi-lə How to pronounce Scylla (audio) \

Definition of Scylla

: a nymph changed into a monster in Greek mythology who terrorizes mariners in the Strait of Messina
between Scylla and Charybdis
: between two equally hazardous alternatives

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 Scylla

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Scylla

Latin, from Greek Skyllē

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The first known use of Scylla was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Scylla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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