stygian

adjective, often capitalized sty·gian \ ˈsti-j(ē-)ən \

Definition of stygian

1 :of or relating to the river Styx
2 :extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding
  • the stygian blackness of the cave

stygian was our Word of the Day on 04/09/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of stygian in a Sentence

  1. lost in the stygian reaches of the deep forest

Recent Examples of stygian from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stygian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Stygian comes to us (by way of Latin stygius and Greek stygios) from Styx, the name of the principal river in Hades, the underworld of the dead in Greek mythology. This is the river over which Charon the boatman was said to ferry the spirits of the dead; the Greeks and Romans would place a coin in the mouth or hand of the deceased to serve as fare. It is also the river by which the gods swore their most binding oaths, according to the epics of Homer. English speakers have been using stygian to mean "of or relating to the river Styx" since the early 16th century. From there the meaning broadened to describe things that are as dark, dreary, and menacing as one might imagine Hades and the river Styx to be.

Origin and Etymology of stygian

Latin stygius, from Greek stygios, from Styg-, Styx Styx

Other Mythology and Folklore Terms



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

readily predictable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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