\ˈsfiŋ(k)s \
plural sphinxes or sphinges\ˈsfin-ˌjēz \

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 \ adjective

Examples of sphinx in a Sentence

a statue of the Sphinx

Recent Examples on the Web

Inside, small vignettes turn up here and there, composed from little toys, knickknacks and accoutrements with African and African American ties — basketball players, Egyptian sphinxes, braided hair extensions, black ballerinas. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Lauren Halsey takes a fantastic voyage in MOCA's 'we still here, there'," 24 May 2018 In the rankings of unusual critters, the Slingshot is up there with the sphinx, centaur, and chimera. Alex Davies, WIRED, "The Delightfully Nonsensical Slingshot Might Just Be the Future of Driving," 4 July 2018 The Great Sphinx of Tanis This Egyptian sphinx in the Sully Wing was carved from granite more than 4,000 years ago. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Inside the Louvre with Beyoncé and Jay-Z," 18 June 2018 By the end, in one of the video’s best shots, she and the dancers are going wild in the Louvre basement, and topless men are jumping for joy in front of the sphinx. Jason Farago, New York Times, "At the Louvre, Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are Both Outsiders and Heirs," 17 June 2018 Dunham still has three pets at home: a sphinx cat named Irma and poodles Karen and Susan. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Lena Dunham Mourns the Death of Her Cat Gia Marie: 'She Was My Love, My Dearest Companion'," 15 June 2018 This is likely a caterpillar known as the tersa sphinx, the immature stage of a rather attractive brown moth common in Florida, feeding on pentas, milkweeds and other landscape plants. Tom Maccubbin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Poor root system hinders plant growth," 19 May 2018 Meadows, meanwhile, insisted in an interview on Monday that his efforts are serious and argued that Rosenstein is his target in this back-and-forth — not that investigative sphinx, Mueller. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Rod Rosenstein may just be the most powerful person in Washington," 1 May 2018 Over 100 million years in the making, sculpting by heavy winds, pouring rain and erosion have given the sandstone monoliths a sphinx-like effect. Nick Kontis, USA TODAY, "Photo tour: Australia’s iconic Uluru (aka Ayers Rock)," 16 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for sphinx

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for sphinx

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

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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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sphinx

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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