Definitions for: Sphinx


[n] 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
[n] (Greek mythology) a riddling winged monster with a woman's head and breast on a lion's body; daughter of Typhon
[n] an inscrutable person who keeps his thoughts and intentions secret



Webster (1913) Definition: Sphinx, n. [L., from Gr. sfi`gx, usually derived from
sfi`ggein to bind tight or together, as if the Throttler.]
1.
(a) 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. --Shelley.
(b) 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.'' --Shak.

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

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

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

4. (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.

See Also: human, individual, mortal, mythical creature, mythical monster, person, somebody, someone, soul, statue

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Famous Quotes Containing Sphinx:


It's like the riddle of the Sphinx... why are there so many great unmarried women, and no great unmarried men?

-- Sarah Jessica Parker (American Actress)

A major difficulty is that the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx is partly a product of the answers that we already have given to the riddle in its various forms.

-- Gregory Bateson (British Scientist)

The pyramid once passed there was still a short way to go before we confronted the Sphinx, in the middle of what our contemporaries have left him of his desert.

-- Pierre Loti (French Writer)

The sphinx will always have to be looked after.

-- Zahi Hawass (Egyptian Scientist)

It is to the Riddle of the Sphinx that I have devoted fifty years of professional life as an anthropologist.

-- Gregory Bateson (British Scientist)

A beautiful woman can be painted as a totem only; not as a woman, but as a Madonna, a queen, a sphinx.

-- Saul Steinberg (American Artist)

When we find something new at Giza, we announce it to the world. The Sphinx and the Pyramids are world treasures. We are the guardian's of these treasures, but they belong to the world.

-- Zahi Hawass (Egyptian Scientist)

It is of first-class importance that our answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx should be in step with how we conduct our civilisation, and this should in turn be in step with the actual workings of living systems.

-- Gregory Bateson (British Scientist)


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