or·​phic ˈȯr-fik How to pronounce orphic (audio)
capitalized : of or relating to Orpheus or the rites or doctrines ascribed to him
orphically adverb

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Orpheus was a hero of Greek mythology who was supposed to possess superhuman musical skills. With his legendary lyre, he was said to be able to make even the rocks and trees dance around. In fact, when his wife Eurydice died, he was nearly able to use his lyre to secure her return from the underworld. Later on, according to legend, he was killed at the bidding of Dionysus, and an oracle of Orpheus was established that came to rival the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Because of the oracle of Orpheus, orphic can mean "oracular." Because of Orpheus' musical powers, orphic can also mean "entrancing."

Examples of orphic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Public history does not feel as alluring to him as furtive genealogies of violence, dramatized in obstinate orphic repetition from one book to the next: a woman (a redhead, a divorcée, someone love-hungry and secretive) is resurrected and rescued, only to be lost again. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Their extreme difficulty, combined with an initially limited availability in print, led readers to construe Pound’s mind as the unapproachable source of an orphic craft. Kathryn Winner, The New Yorker, 6 Jan. 2023 Readers mystified by any of the author’s orphic lingo will find full explanations in the book’s extensive glossary. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 23 Aug. 2018 As if fearing that too lyrical an approach to such an orphic figure would result in incoherence, Gooch describes this poet’s life in a decidedly unpoetic way. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, 20 Jan. 2017

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

Word History

First Known Use

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of orphic was in 1656


Dictionary Entries Near orphic

Cite this Entry

“Orphic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orphic. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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