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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Behind them, the huge ugly building crouched like a sphinx, purring through iron tonsils.
▪ His sometimes enigmatic expression and behaviour were likened to that of the sphinx in cartoonists' caricatures.
▪ I was surprised, therefore, to find three sphinx caterpillars still feeding on the ash sapling next to the cabin.
▪ Luxor, built in the shape of a pyramid, complete with a sphinx out front.
▪ Mrs Nina Pender was less a pseud than a sphinx.
▪ Or a monstrous mysterious sphinx, aloof from all that lives.
▪ Phalle made a sphinx, which also served as her home over the several years of work on the project.
▪ She sat in the sphinx position, with her eyes closed.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sphinx \Sphinx\, n. [L., from Gr. sfi`gx, usually derived from sfi`ggein to bind tight or together, as if the Throttler.]

    1. In Egyptian art, an image of granite or porphyry, having a human head, or the head of a ram or of a hawk, upon the wingless body of a lion.

      The awful ruins of the days of old . . . Or jasper tomb, or mutilated sphinx.

    2. On Greek art and mythology, a she-monster, usually represented as having the winged body of a lion, and the face and breast of a young woman.

      Note: The most famous Grecian sphinx, that of Thebes in B[oe]otia, is said to have proposed a riddle to the Thebans, and killed those who were unable to guess it. The enigma was solved by [OE]dipus, whereupon the sphinx slew herself. ``Subtle as sphinx.''

  1. Hence: A person of enigmatical character and purposes, especially in politics and diplomacy.

  2. (Zo["o]l.) Any one of numerous species of large moths of the family Sphingid[ae]; -- called also hawk moth. See also tomato worm.

    Note: The larva is a stout naked caterpillar which, when at rest, often assumes a position suggesting the Egyptian sphinx, whence the name.

  3. (Zo["o]l.) The Guinea, or sphinx, baboon ( Cynocephalus sphinx).

    Sphinx baboon (Zo["o]l.), a large West African baboon ( Cynocephalus sphinx), often kept in menageries.

    Sphinx moth. (Zo["o]l.) Same as Sphinx, 3.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

monster of Greek mythology having a lion's (winged) body and a woman's head; she waylaid travelers around Thebes and devoured those who could not answer her questions; Oedipus solved the riddle and the Sphinx killed herself. In English from early 15c., from Latin Sphinx, from Greek Sphinx, said to mean literally" the strangler," a back-formation from sphingein "to squeeze, bind" (see sphincter).\n

\nThere also was an Egyptian form (usually male and wingless); in reference to this it is attested in English from 1570s; specific reference to the colossal stone one near the pyramids as Giza is attested from 1610s. Transferred sense of "person or thing of mysterious nature" is from c.1600. The proper plural would be sphinges. As adjectives in English, sphingal, sphingian, sphingine, sphinxian, sphinxine, and sphinx-like all have been tried.


n. 1 (context mythology English) A creature with the head of a person and the body of an animal (commonly a lion). 2 A person who keeps his/her thoughts and intentions secret; an enigmatic person. 3 ''Cynocephalus sphinx'', a kind of baboon. 4 A sphinx moth. 5 (context rare English) A sphincter. vb. 1 To decorate with sphinxes 2 To adopt the posture of the Sphinx. 3 To be inscrutable, often through silence 4 To make one guess at the unknowable 5 To befuddle 6 For the feminine to co-opt, dominate, or devour the masculine, especially from a paranoid fear of this happening

  1. n. an inscrutable person who keeps his thoughts and intentions secret

  2. (Greek mythology) a riddling winged monster with a woman's head and breast on a lion's body; daughter of Typhon

  3. one of a number of large stone statues with the body of a lion and the head of a man that were built by the ancient Egyptians

  4. [also: sphinges (pl)]


A sphinx ( , Boeotian: ) is a mythical creature with, at a minimum, the head of a human and the body of a lion.

In Greek tradition, it has the head of a human, the haunches of a lion, and sometimes the wings of a bird. It is mythicised as treacherous and merciless. Those who cannot answer its riddle suffer a fate typical in such mythological stories, as they are killed and eaten by this ravenous monster. This deadly version of a sphinx appears in the myth and drama of Oedipus. Unlike the Greek sphinx, which was a woman, the Egyptian sphinx is typically shown as a man (an androsphinx). In addition, the Egyptian sphinx was viewed as benevolent, but having a ferocious strength similar to the malevolent Greek version and both were thought of as guardians often flanking the entrances to temples.

In European decorative art, the sphinx enjoyed a major revival during the Renaissance. Later, the sphinx image, something very similar to the original Ancient Egyptian concept, was exported into many other cultures, albeit often interpreted quite differently due to translations of descriptions of the originals and the evolution of the concept in relation to other cultural traditions.

Sphinxes are generally associated with architectural structures such as royal tombs or religious temples. The oldest known sphinx was found near Gobekli Tepe at another site, Nevali Çori, or possibly 120 miles to the east at Kortik Tepe, Turkey, and was dated to 9,500 BCE.

Sphinx (senior society)

The Sphinx, founded in 1885, is the oldest of the eleven senior societies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is the oldest continuously operating all-male secret society in the country.

Sphinx (novel)

Sphinx is a 1979 novel by Robin Cook. Unlike most of his novels, its theme is Egyptology and the modern black market in antiquities rather than medicine. Set in 1980, mainly in Egypt, it deals with a young American Egyptologist named Erica Baron on a working vacation in Egypt who finds herself sucked into a dangerous vortex of intrigue after seeing an ancient Egyptian statue in a Cairo market.

In 1981, it was adapted into the film Sphinx starring Lesley-Anne Down as Erica Baron and Frank Langella as Ahmed Khazzan.

Sphinx (satellite)

Sphinx is the designation of an American test satellite. The Sphinx satellite was the payload for the first Titan IIIE Centaur rocket. The Helios, Viking and Voyager space probes were later launched using this rocket.

Sphinx (disambiguation)

A sphinx a mythical creature with, at a minimum, the head of a human and the body of a lion.

Sphinx or Sphynx may also refer to:

Sphinx (Marvel Comics)

The Sphinx is the name of two fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Sphinx (Dungeons & Dragons)

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game Sphinxes are a type of magical beast. The four most common subraces of sphinx are the androsphinx, criosphinx, gynosphinx, and hieracosphinx.

Sphinx (Marc Quinn sculpture)

In 2006, Sphinx, a sculpture of the British fashion model Kate Moss in a complicated yoga position was unveiled by the controversial British sculptor Marc Quinn. The life-size sculpture is made of cast bronze, with a white-painted finish, and shows Moss wearing a leotard with her feet and hands behind her head.

The pose itself was modelled by a more experienced woman yoga practitioner, though the body, hands, and feet are based on Moss' exact measurements and earlier lifecastings. Quinn's representation of Moss is meant to show "a mirror of ourselves, a knotted Venus of our age."

Sphinx (Romania)

The Sphinx is a natural rock formation in the Bucegi Natural Park which is in the Bucegi Mountains of Romania. It is located at an altitude of , a 10-minute walk from Babele.

The first photo of the Great Bucegi Sphinx was probably taken in about the year 1900. This photograph was taken from a front position, not from a lateral one, as it usually appears in pictures nowadays. It only acquired its nickname, referring to the Great Sphinx of Giza, in the year 1936. The image of the sphinx appeared when the rock, having an 8 m height and a 12 m width, was watched from a certain angle. The megalith has its clearest outline on 21 November, at the time the sun goes down.

Sphinx (search engine)

Sphinx is a free software/ open source fulltext search engine designed to provide text search functionality to client applications.

Sphinx (documentation generator)

Sphinx is a documentation generator written and used by the Python community. It is written in Python, and also used in other environments.

Sphinx (film)

Sphinx is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The screenplay by John Byrum is based on the 1979 novel of the same title by Robin Cook.

Sphinx (gene)

In molecular biology, Sphinx (spx) is a long non-coding RNA found in Drosophila. It is expressed in the brain, within the antennal lobe and inner antennocerebral tract. It is involved in the regulation of male courtship behaviour, this may be via olfactory neuron mediated regulation. Sphinx may act as a negative regulator of target genes. It is a chimeric gene, originating from a retroposed sequence of the ATP synthase chain F gene from chromosome 2 to chromosome 4. Nearby sequences were recruited to form an intron and an exon of this chimeric gene.

Sphinx (role-playing game)

Sphinx is a role-playing game published by Seventh Scarab (U.K.) in 1984.

Sphinx (genus)

Sphinx is a genus of moths in the Sphingidae family, containing the following species:

  • S. adumbrata (Dyar, 1912)
  • S. asella ( Rothschild & Jordan, 1903)
  • S. caligineus (Butler, 1877)
  • S. canadensis (Boisduval, 1875)
  • S. centrosinaria Kitching & Jin, 1998
  • S. chersis (Hubner, 1823)
  • S. chisoya (Schaus, 1932)
  • S. constricta Butler, 1885
  • S. crassistriga ( Rothschild & Jordan, 1903)
  • S. dollii Neumoegen, 1881
  • S. drupiferarum JE Smith, 1797
  • S. formosana Riotte, 1970
  • S. franckii Neumoegen, 1893
  • S. gordius Cramer, 1779
  • S. kalmiae JE Smith, 1797
  • S. leucophaeata Clemens, 1859
  • S. libocedrus Edwards, 1881
  • S. ligustri Linnaeus, 1758
  • S. luscitiosa Clemens, 1859
  • S. maurorum ( Jordan, 1931)
  • S. morio ( Rothschild & Jordan, 1903)
  • S. nogueirai Haxaire, 2002
  • S. oberthueri ( Rothschild & Jordan, 1903)
  • S. perelegans Edwards, 1874
  • S. pinastri Linnaeus, 1758
  • S. poecila Stephens, 1828
  • S. sequoiae Boisduval, 1868
  • S. vashti Strecker, 1878

Category:Sphingini Category:Insects of Turkey

Usage examples of "sphinx".

She always placed the booties in a neat pile just in front of her nose, and then sat in sphinx position, looking superior.

They loaded it into wheeled wagons drawn by female centaurs, a manticora, and a small sphinx.

How could the Old Kingdom Egyptians, having taken the trouble to construct the huge Giza necropolis and the rest of the Memphite monuments, fail to make any mention of the Great Sphinx?

In 1979, for example, a proposal was made to the ARCE for a full-scale mapping survey involving the Great Sphinx and its enclosure in which use would be made of modern photogrammetric techniques to record every detail, crack, fissure, contour and outline of the monument.

CHAPTER 80 The Nut If the Sperm Whale be physiognomically a Sphinx, to the phrenologist his brain seems that geometrical circle which it is impossible to square.

Had the project code-named White Sphinx translated me to primogenial Pangea rather than to preadamite Africa?

The Sphinx was thought to be connected in some way with foreigners or with a foreign religion which dated from predynastic times.

Indeed we think it possible that the Sphinx and the three great Pyramids may offer knowledge of the genesis of civilization itself.

Giza necropolis, site of the Great Sphinx and the three great Pyramids of Egypt, is, by any standards, an extraordinary architectural and archaeological puzzle.

Sphinx Temple and the Valley Temple are concerned because their original constructed height was much lower than that of the Pyramids and they therefore could have been approached by relatively short 1-in-10 ramps.

Giza have quietly spawned a multimillion-dollar New Age industry that has embroiled itself deeply with mainstream Egyptological research into the Pyramids and the Sphinx.

This armed Sphinx represents the law of the Mystery, which keeps watch at the door of initiation, to repulse the Profane.

Sphinx, armed, represents the Magical Mystery expressed in the number seven, 728-u.

It was of white marble, in shape something like a winged sphinx, but the wings, instead of being carried vertically at the sides, were spread so that it seemed to hover.

London and the entire facade was refaced in white Italian marble, with ornamented stringcourses in porphyry, and tasteful and extremely elegant bronze sphinxes were placed at the corners of the roof.