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. (Shelley)
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.
The most famous Grecian sphinx, that of Thebes in Boeotia, is said to have proposed a riddle to the Thebans, and killed those who were unable to guess it. The enigma was solved by oedipus, whereupon the sphinx slew herself. Subtle as sphinx.
2. Hence: A person of enigmatical character and purposes, especially in politics and diplomacy.
3. (Science: zoology) Any one of numerous species of large moths of the family Sphingidae; called also hawk moth.
The larva is a stout naked caterpillar which, when at rest, often assumes a position suggesting the egyptian sphinx, whence the name.
4. (Science: zoology) The guinea, or sphinx, baboon (Cynocephalus sphinx).
(Science: zoology) Sphinx baboon same as Sphinx.
Origin: L, from Gr. Sfigx, usually derived from sfiggein to bind tight or together, as if the Throttler.