From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44 [gcide]:
Sphinx \Sphinx\, noun [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.
From WordNet (r) 2.0 [wn]:
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