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
lost in the stygian reaches of the deep forest
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
First Known Use: 1513
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