adjective, often capitalized
oe·​di·​pal | \ ˈe-də-pəl How to pronounce oedipal (audio) , ˈē- How to pronounce oedipal (audio) \

Definition of oedipal

: of, relating to, or resulting from the Oedipus complex

Other Words from oedipal

oedipally \ ˈe-​də-​pə-​lē How to pronounce oedipal (audio) , ˈē-​ \ adverb, often capitalized

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In Greek mythology, the king of Thebes, in response to a dreadful prophecy, abandoned his infant son Oedipus, who was then brought up by shepherds. Grown to manhood, Oedipus slew his father almost accidentally, not recognizing him, and then married his mother. When the shameful truth was discovered, the mother committed suicide and Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile. The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud invented the term Oedipus complex to mean a sexual desire that a child normally feels toward the parent of the opposite sex, along with jealous feelings toward the parent of the same sex. In Freud's theory (not accepted by everyone today), lingering oedipal feelings are an essential source of adult personality disorder, and can result in choosing a spouse who closely resembles your father or mother.

Examples of oedipal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His own emotional issues mean that The Boys are not the only casualty, though, as Homelander ultimately kills his own boss and oedipal mother figure, Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), the one time VP of Vought International. Rosie Knight, refinery29.com, 7 Sep. 2020 Morgan’s elementally Oedipal narrative benefits from an uncomplicated plot that emphasizes the complexity of the characters’ emotional conflicts. Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 May 2017 And that his own alienation (that state of mind shared by so many DeLillo protagonists) has roots in this Oedipal conflict. Mr. DeLillo’s depiction of the Convergence compound will trigger all sorts of associations for the reader. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 25 Apr. 2016 This is an incredibly art directed Oedipal tale with a lot of long pauses. Jordan Crucchiola, WIRED, 24 Sep. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oedipal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of oedipal

1939, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of oedipal was in 1939

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Cite this Entry

“Oedipal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oedipal. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for oedipal



English Language Learners Definition of oedipal

: of, relating to, or resulting from an Oedipus complex


adjective, often capitalized
oe·​di·​pal | \ ˈed-ə-pəl How to pronounce oedipal (audio) , ˈēd- How to pronounce oedipal (audio) \

Medical Definition of oedipal

: of, relating to, or resulting from the Oedipus complex

Other Words from oedipal

oedipally \ -​pə-​lē How to pronounce oedipal (audio) \ adverb, often capitalized


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