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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from sphinx

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

Examples of sphinx in a Sentence

a statue of the Sphinx
Recent Examples on the Web 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 Crudup’s sphinx-y adversary is reliably entertaining. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "‘The Morning Show’ review: Apple TV+ tosses an uncertain, half-baked #MeToo drama into its streaming service," 28 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of sphinx

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

History and Etymology for sphinx

Latin, from Greek Sphinx, Sphix

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sphinx

Time Traveler for sphinx

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sphinx

Cite this Entry

“Sphinx.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphinx. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on sphinx

What made you want to look up sphinx? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!