Sisyphean

adjective
Sis·y·phe·an | \ˌsi-sə-ˈfē-ən \
variants: or less commonly Sisyphian \si-ˈsi-fē-ən \

Definition of Sisyphean 

: of, relating to, or suggestive of the labors of Sisyphus a Sisyphean task

Did You Know?

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king who annoyed the gods with his trickery. As a consequence, he was condemned for eternity to roll a huge rock up a long, steep hill in the underworld, only to watch it roll back down. The story of Sisyphus is often told in conjunction with that of Tantalus, who was condemned to stand beneath fruit-laden boughs, up to his chin in water. Whenever he bent his head to drink, the water receded, and whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches moved beyond his grasp. Thus to tantalize is to tease or torment by offering something desirable but keeping it out of reach - and something Sisyphean (or Sisyphian, pronounced \sih-SIFF-ee-un) demands unending, thankless, and ultimately unsuccessful efforts.

First Known Use of Sisyphean

1635, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about Sisyphean

Listen to Our Podcast about Sisyphean

Dictionary Entries near Sisyphean

sists

Siswati

sisymbrium

Sisyphean

Sisyphus

Sisyridae

sisyrinchium

Statistics for Sisyphean

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for Sisyphean

The first known use of Sisyphean was in 1635

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on Sisyphean

See words that rhyme with Sisyphean

Comments on Sisyphean

What made you want to look up Sisyphean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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