(noun, verb)


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

Definition categories: person, individual, mortal, somebody, someone, soul

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

Definition categories: person

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

Definition categories: man–made, statue


1. To decorate with sphinxes

- a marble sphinxed chimney-piece

2. To adopt the posture of the Sphinx.

- A hot lion with a very bloated stomach ... will adopt either a sphinxed or a squatting posture which takes some of the weight off its belly.

- Several animals maintained either a crouched ... or a sphinxing posture (abdomen on the floor)

3. To be inscrutable, often through silence

- (1900) The sphinxèd riddle of the Universe / Nature's unsolved enigma, who may prove?

- (1933) Janet Gaynor, so they tell, is sphinxing it and has gone into a Retirement, with "Nothing to Say — Please Go Away" written on the doormat.

- (1934) The men of science will climb grassy hillsides of [Easter] island to peer at hundreds of great stone faces that have so far out-sphinxed the sphinx in determined silence about the past.

4. To make one guess at the unknowable

- (1933) Perhaps Nature is sphinxing us on purpose. Whatever her objects may be, perhaps she gets her work done better when she appeals to our gambling instincts. If you knew for certain exactly how your marriage was going to turn out ...

5. To befuddle

- (2010) She swiveled and sphinxed Giles. 'And you, I suppose you've never been here either?' Giles squirmed. 'Well, I – that is, Miss Wh—, I mean, Miss Taylor, I –' He looked to me for rescue.

6. For the feminine to co-opt, dominate, or devour the masculine, especially from a paranoid fear of this happening

- (1986) modernism's fears of being sphinxed by a feminized mass culture