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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sibyl \Sib"yl\, n. [L. sibylla, Gr. ????.]

  1. (Class. Antiq.) A woman supposed to be endowed with a spirit of prophecy.

    Note: The number of the sibyls is variously stated by different authors; but the opinion of Varro, that there were ten, is generally adopted. They dwelt in various parts of Persia, Greece, and Italy.

  2. A female fortune teller; a pythoness; a prophetess. ``An old highland sibyl.''
    --Sir W. Scott.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"woman supposed to possess powers of prophecy, female soothsayer," c.1200, from Old French sibile, from Latin Sibylla, from Greek Sibylla, name for any of several prophetesses consulted by ancient Greeks and Romans, of uncertain origin. Said to be from Doric Siobolla, from Attic Theoboule "divine wish."


n. A pagan female oracle or prophetess, especially the (w Cumaean Sibyl Cumaean sibyl).

  1. n. a woman who tells fortunes

  2. (ancient Rome) a woman who was regarded as an oracle or prophet


The sibyls were women that the ancient Greeks believed were oracles. The earliest sibyls, according to legend, prophesied at holy sites. Their prophecies were influenced by divine inspiration from a deity; originally at Delphi and Pessinos, the deities were chthonic deities. In later antiquity, various writers attested to the existence of sibyls in Greece, Italy, the Levant, and Asia Minor.

The English word sibyl ( or ) comes — via the Old French sibile and the Latin sibylla — from the ancient Greek σίβυλλα (sibulla, plural σίβυλλαι sibullai). Varro derived the name from theobule ("divine counsel"), but modern philologists mostly propose an Old Italic or alternatively a Semitic etymology.

Sibyl (disambiguation)

Sibyls were oracular women believed to possess prophetic powers in ancient Greece.

Sibyl and Sybil may also refer to:

Usage examples of "sibyl".

Saint Augustine introduces the Erythrean Sibyl, who, he says, faithfully foretold the Life of the Saviour.

Perhaps Jones might have seen him in that light, and have recollected the passage where the Sibyl, in order to procure an entrance for Eneas, presents the keeper of the Stygian avenue with such a sop.

Sibyl were over, and her first session in front of his videocam was well under way.

At last the living Sibyl, whose name was Amalthea, quite a young woman too, revealed herself.

You speak like the Cumaean sibyls, or as if you were rendering oracles at your temple in Corinth.

They can serve the Lady by serving their fellow human beings as sibyls, as I do.

The shoreline of the Choosing Island was as spiny as the trefoil the sibyls wore.

The trefoil symbol the sibyls wore was a warning against defilement, against trepass on sacred ground.

Even here on Tiamat, in the far islands the sibyls wandered like traveling occultists, thinking they spoke with the voice of the Sea Mother.

Not even the Hegemony would dare to eliminate sibyls from an inhabited world .

And one of the things she had learned about sibyls was that they were not more than human: Sorrow and anger and all the petty frustrations of life still grew from the seeds of her dedication, wrong still came out of the best intentions.

The Hedge wants this world kept in the technological dark, and sibyls are beacons of knowledge.

He is also telling locals that sibyls have access to forbidden knowledge.

I suppose the superstition was fostered in order to protect sibyls from harm in less civilized societies.

She had spent this day like the ones before it, practicing the exercises that disciplined her mind and body, watching the information tapes that KR Aspundh gave to her, learning all that was known to the Hegemony about what sibyls were, and did, and meant to the people of their worlds.