\ 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

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 The long-standing Russian leader, in control of Russia in some way for more than two decades, remains as inscrutable as a sphinx. Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2021 Stent, writing in Foreign Affairs, argues that Biden needs to think more like Putin on Ukraine and get some of that sphinx-like inscrutability going for the United States. Washington Post, 7 Dec. 2021 Among towering Asian statues and a replica of an Egyptian sphinx, more than 100 people made the wedding feel like a mini Met Gala. Ernest Owens, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2021 The road was buried under sand for centuries until Egyptian archaeologist Zakaria Ghineim discovered the first eight sphinx statues in front of the Luxor Temple in 1949. NBC News, 25 Nov. 2021 The third shape, which comprises the biggest chunk of the statues, is one of a sphinx (a lion's body and a human's head), with the statues stretching over a mile from the Precinct of Mut to the Luxor Temple. Hatem Maher, ABC News, 23 Nov. 2021 More than 4,500 years after their creation, the pyramids have lost their sheen, and the reclining sphinx’s head has long since been chiseled into its current human form. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Oct. 2021 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

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

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sphinx.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphinx. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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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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