- 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
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
- /ˈsfɪndʒiz/USA pronunciation .
- Ancient Historyan ancient Egyptian figure with the body of a lion and the head of a human, esp. a very large stone figure of this type near the pyramids of Giza.
- a creature in Greek myth with wings, a woman's head, and a lion's body:The sphinx killed anyone passing by who was unable to answer the riddle she posed.
- a mysterious person or thing.
- Fine Art(in ancient Egypt)
- Ancient Historya figure of an imaginary creature having the head of a man or an animal and the body of a lion.
- (usually cap.) the colossal recumbent stone figure of this kind near the pyramids of Giza.
- Mythology(cap.) [Class. Myth.]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.
- Mythologyany similar monster.
- a mysterious, inscrutable person or thing, esp. one given to enigmatic questions or answers.
- Greek sphínx, equivalent. to sphing-, base of sphíngein to hold tight (compare sphincter) + -s nominative singular ending
- late Middle English 1375–1425
- 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