plural sphinxes or sphinges ˈsfin-ˌjēz How to pronounce sphinx (audio)
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
: an enigmatic or mysterious person
she is a sphinx whose features hold a blank fascination
: 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
sphinxlike adjective

Example Sentences

a statue of the Sphinx
Recent Examples on the Web Only the sphinxes stand guard vainly over the rivers, which are leaving, and the lions and the griffins. Eugene Ostashevsky, The New York Review of Books, 4 May 2023 Ancient Egyptian sphinxes often represented a king or royal with the body of a lion, as a symbol of might and power. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2023 This was because Rama-Tut was a time traveler from the 40th century, and the great Egyptian sphinx was his time machine. Christian Holub,, 22 Feb. 2023 Contrary to the expectations of many experts, who believed that the giant sphinx moth was likely the only pollinator of the ghost orchid, this moth is a fig sphinx. Steven Bedard, Discover Magazine, 26 Nov. 2019 The faces of the sphinxes are all portraits of members of her family: her mother, Glenda, her cousin Aujane, her brother Dominic, her life partner, Monique McWilliams. Holland Cotter, New York Times, 16 Apr. 2023 Archaeologists have discovered a small, Roman-era sphinx statue, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities ministry announced this week. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Mar. 2023 But the country’s most famous sphinx, the Great Sphinx of Giza, dates back to around 2,500 BC and represents the ancient Egyptian Pharoah Khafre. Abbas Al Lawati, CNN, 6 Mar. 2023 Jack has remained silent as a sphinx. Eamon Lynch, Detroit Free Press, 10 Jan. 2021 See More

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

Word History


Latin, from Greek Sphinx, Sphix

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near sphinx

Cite this Entry

“Sphinx.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural sphinxes or sphinges ˈsfin-ˌjēz How to pronounce sphinx (audio)
: an ancient Egyptian image having the body of a lion and the head of a man, ram, or hawk

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