incubus

noun

in·​cu·​bus ˈiŋ-kyə-bəs How to pronounce incubus (audio)
ˈin-
plural incubi ˈiŋ-kyə-ˌbī How to pronounce incubus (audio) -ˌbē How to pronounce incubus (audio)
ˈin-
also incubuses
1
: an evil spirit that lies on persons in their sleep
especially : one that has sexual intercourse with women while they are sleeping compare succubus
2
3
: one that oppresses or burdens like a nightmare

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web This meaning is visualized in Henry Fuseli’s 1781 painting The Nightmare, which shows a woman sleeping peacefully on a couch while a nauseating monster—an incubus—sits portentously on her abdomen, unbeknownst to her. Time, 28 Dec. 2022 As Tommy’s experiences in the tunnels of France mark a continued incubus for his character, with visions of being pulled into the mud, the sounding of the bell coincides with his own inner peace. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 13 June 2022 An incubus is the male variety (and also that band). Angie Jones, Glamour, 17 Mar. 2022

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin incubare

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of incubus was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near incubus

Cite this Entry

“Incubus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incubus. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

incubus

noun
in·​cu·​bus ˈiŋ-kyə-bəs How to pronounce incubus (audio)
ˈin-
plural incubi -ˌbī How to pronounce incubus (audio)
-ˌbē
also incubuses
1
: an evil spirit once believed to lie upon persons in their sleep
2

Medical Definition

incubus

noun
in·​cu·​bus ˈiŋ-kyə-bəs, ˈin- How to pronounce incubus (audio)
plural incubi -ˌbī How to pronounce incubus (audio) -ˌbē How to pronounce incubus (audio) also incubuses
1
: an evil spirit at one time thought to lie on persons in their sleep
especially : one thought to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women compare succubus
2

More from Merriam-Webster on incubus

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