\ 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 Not much is known about the new content other than a tantalizing shot of a level featuring stormy weather and a sphinx. Washington Post, "The most anticipated games of 2021," 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, "The Internet Thinks Taylor Swift's Latest Instagram Post Has a Hidden Meaning," 28 Apr. 2020 This well-shot walking tour starts at the Mortuary Temple of Khafre, passing by the pyramids of Khafre, Khufu, and Menkaure, before ending at the iconic sphinx. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, "12 Virtual Walking Trails Around the World That You Can Experience Right Now," 22 Apr. 2020 This impressive art form began in 710 B.C. by Greek settlers, and, in the past 20 years, archaeologists have found Crotone creations made between 600 B.C. and 400 B.C., ranging from a golden tiara to a winged sphinx. Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, "8 Art Exhibits You Can Virtually Visit Right Now," 20 Apr. 2020 Two sets belong to the dogs that are clearly the alpha players here; one to a sphinx with a chimp-like face; and the last to a terrified red humanoid that seems paralyzed by whatever is going on behind it. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Roy De Forest’s Greatness Shines Even in a Virtual Display," 9 Apr. 2020 Archaeologists discovered a stunning sphinx statue at an ancient temple in southern Egypt in a separate project. Fox News, "Mysterious ancient Egyptian 'head cones' discovered," 11 Dec. 2019 Over the weekend, Egyptian archaeologists also unearthed a dwarf limestone sphinx from a ditch in the southern desert province of Minya. Washington Post, "Egyptian officials unveil new archaeological finds," 17 Dec. 2019 And with her new theme park, the sphinx-like mystery of Banks’s smize lives on. Liam Hess, Vogue, "Why Tyra Banks’s Modeling Theme Park Is Less Wacky Than It Sounds," 24 Feb. 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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Statistics for sphinx

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sphinx.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphinx. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sphinx


How to pronounce sphinx (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sphinx

in ancient Greek and Egyptian stories : 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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