noun, plural sphinxes, sphinges
[sfin-jeez] /ˈsfɪn dʒiz/ (Show IPA)

a figure of an imaginary creature having the head of a man or an animal and the body of a lion.
(usually initial capital letter) the colossal recumbent stone figure of this kind near the pyramids of Giza.

(initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a monster, usually represented as having the head and breast of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle. Seated on a rock outside of Thebes, she proposed a riddle to travelers, killing them when they answered incorrectly, as all did before Oedipus. When he answered her riddle correctly the Sphinx killed herself.
any similar monster.
a mysterious, inscrutable person or thing, especially one given to enigmatic questions or answers.
noun (pl) sphinxes, sphinges (ˈsfɪndʒiːz)
any of a number of huge stone statues built by the ancient Egyptians, having the body of a lion and the head of a man
an inscrutable person
noun the Sphinx
(Greek myth) a monster with a woman’s head and a lion’s body. She lay outside Thebes, asking travellers a riddle and killing them when they failed to answer it. Oedipus answered the riddle and the Sphinx then killed herself
the huge statue of a sphinx near the pyramids at El Gîza in Egypt, of which the head is a carved portrait of the fourth-dynasty Pharaoh, Chephrēn
Sphinx [(sfingks)]

In the story of Oedipus, a winged monster with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. It waylaid travelers on the roads near the city of Thebes and would kill any of them who could not answer this riddle: “What creatures walk on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?” Oedipus finally gave the correct answer: human beings, who go on all fours as infants, walk upright in maturity, and in old age rely on the “third leg” of a cane.

Note: The sphinx of Greek mythology resembles the sphinx of Egyptian mythology but is distinct from it (the Egyptian sphinx had a man’s head). (See under “Fine Arts.”)

Sphinx [(sfingks)]

A great sculpture carved from the rock near the Egyptian pyramids in about 2500 b.c. It depicts a creature from Egyptian mythology with the head of a man and the body of a lion. (See under “Mythology and Folklore.”)


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  • Sphragistics

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  • Sphygmic

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