\ ˈsfiŋ(k)s How to pronounce sphinx (audio) \
plural sphinxes or sphinges\ ˈsfin-​ˌjēz How to pronounce sphinx (audio) \

Definition of sphinx

1a capitalized : a winged female monster in Greek mythology having a woman's head and a lion's body and noted for killing anyone unable to answer its riddle
b : an enigmatic or mysterious person she is a sphinx whose features hold a blank fascination
2 : an ancient Egyptian image in the form of a recumbent lion having a man's head, a ram's head, or a hawk's head

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Other Words from sphinx

sphinxlike \ ˈsfiŋ(k)s-​ˌlīk How to pronounce sphinx (audio) \ adjective

Examples of sphinx in a Sentence

a statue of the Sphinx
Recent Examples on the Web Rauschenberg riddles on about desire and identity like your personal sphinx. David Salle, The New York Review of Books, 13 Dec. 2020 As the title character — a professional gambler with a lot behind him, and not much impulse to dredge it up — Oscar Isaac makes for a magnetic sphinx indeed. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, 8 Sep. 2021 Kidman plays the inscrutably charismatic Masha with a sphinx-like serenity that does not entirely mask the cult-leader gleam in her eye. San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Aug. 2021 Against the gray, the amber cliffs seemed more sphinx-like and more menacing. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 Sphinx of the Second Sun is a mono-blue sphinx that costs two blue and six generic. Joe Parlock, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 Almost every president from Truman onward tried and failed to answer this question, like a succession of petitioners attempting to answer the riddle of the sphinx. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 26 Mar. 2021 Not much is known about the new content other than a tantalizing shot of a level featuring stormy weather and a sphinx. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2020 Much like the mythological sphinx, Taylor Swift is prone to speaking—and posting on Instagram—in elaborate riddles, tantalizing her fans with esoteric clues about the new projects she's got in the works. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, 28 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sphinx.' 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 sphinx

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sphinx

Latin, from Greek Sphinx, Sphix

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Time Traveler for sphinx

Time Traveler

The first known use of sphinx was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sphinx



sphinx baboon

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Last Updated

3 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sphinx.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphinx. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for sphinx



English Language Learners Definition of sphinx

: a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a person also : something (such as a statue) in the shape of a sphinx


\ ˈsfiŋks How to pronounce sphinx (audio) \

Kids Definition of sphinx

: a mythical figure of ancient Egypt having the body of a lion and the head of a man, a ram, or a hawk

More from Merriam-Webster on sphinx

Nglish: Translation of sphinx for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sphinx


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