Pronunciation: (sfingks), [key]
pl. sphinx•es, sphin•gesPronunciation: (sfin'jēz). [key]

1. (in ancient Egypt)
a. a figure of an imaginary creature having the head of a man or an animal and the body of a lion.
b. (usually cap.) the colossal recumbent stone figure of this kind near the pyramids of Giza.
2. (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.
3. any similar monster.
4. a mysterious, inscrutable person or thing, esp. one given to enigmatic questions or answers.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

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