What does oedipus mean

Oedipus Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com

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[ ed-uh-puhs, ee-duh- ]

/ ˈɛd ə pəs, ˈi də- /

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noun Greek Legend.

a king of Thebes, the son of Laius and Jocasta, and the father by Jocasta of Eteocles, Polynices, Antigone, and Ismeme: as was prophesied at his birth, he unwittingly killed his father and married his mother and, in penance, blinded himself and went into exile.



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Words nearby Oedipus

oecus, OED, oedema, oedipal, Oedipean, Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus complex, Oedipus Rex, oedometer, OEEC

Dictionary. com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Oedipus in a sentence

  • At the start of the play, a delegation of citizens begs King Oedipus of Thebes to do something about the awful disease that’s raging through the city.

    What the Greek Myths Can Teach Us About Our Moment of Crisis|Charlotte Higgins|January 19, 2022|Time

  • Big questions remain unanswered, but we’ve come a long way from Sigmund Freud and the Oedipus complex.

    Creating a ‘science of us’ has been a contentious effort|Nancy Shute|August 8, 2021|Science News

  • She played my mom on the show and we had a sort of strange Oedipus Rex relationship.

    ‘My First Time’: Josh Duhamel on His First Kiss, First Heartbreak & More|Josh Duhamel|August 23, 2013|DAILY BEAST

  • Probably John Gielgud's during the dress rehearsal of Peter Brook's production of Seneca's Oedipus at the Vic.

    Kevin Spacey on Casino Jack|Kevin Sessums|December 14, 2010|DAILY BEAST

  • The notion of intra-family sex has inspired—and revolted—onlookers from Oedipus to Deliverance.

    Incest's Defenders|Joseph Huff-Hannon|September 28, 2009|DAILY BEAST

  • He lived to be ninety years old, and produced the most beautiful of his tragedies in his eightieth year, the "Oedipus at Colonus."

    Beacon Lights of History, Volume I|John Lord

  • They are speaking, truly, but only Oedipus can solve the riddle and comprehend their mute speech.

    Dream Tales and Prose Poems|Ivan Turgenev

  • Taxonomic and geographic comments on Guatemalan salamanders of the genus Oedipus.

    Amphibians and Reptiles of the Rainforests of Southern El Peten, Guatemala|William E. Duellman

  • It is thus that we see spring up, grow, and come to maturity under our eyes, the curiosity of Oedipus and the jealousy of Iago.

    The Aesthetical Essays|Friedrich Schiller

  • Exner holds that the ancients conceived Oedipus not as we do; they found his misfortune horrible; we find it unpleasant.

    Criminal Psychology|Hans Gross

British Dictionary definitions for Oedipus


/ (ˈiːdɪpəs) /


Greek myth the son of Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, who killed his father, being unaware of his identity, and unwittingly married his mother, by whom he had four children. When the truth was revealed, he put out his eyes and Jocasta killed herself

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for Oedipus


[ (ed-uh-puhs, ee-duh-puhs) ]

In classical mythology, a tragic king who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. The Delphic oracle predicted that King Laius of Thebes, a city in Greece, would be killed by his own son. To save himself, Laius ordered his newborn son placed on a mountaintop and left to starve. The infant was rescued by a shepherd and raised in a distant city, where he was given the name Oedipus. Years later, King Laius was killed while on a journey by a stranger with whom he quarreled. Oedipus arrived at Thebes shortly thereafter and saved the city from the ravages of the Sphinx. He was proclaimed king in Laius' stead, and he took the dead king's widow, Jocasta, as his own wife.

After several years a terrible plague struck Thebes. The Delphic oracle told Oedipus that to end the plague, he must find and punish the murderer of King Laius. In the course of his investigation, Oedipus discovered that he himself was the killer and that Laius had been his real father. He had therefore murdered his father and married his mother, Jocasta. In his despair at this discovery, Oedipus blinded himself.

notes for Oedipus

The story of Oedipus is the subject of the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

notes for Oedipus

The Oedipus complex, identified by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, takes its name from the story of Oedipus.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Oedipus Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

1 of 2

Oe·​di·​pus ˈe-də-pəs 


: the son of Laius and Jocasta who in fulfillment of an oracle unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother


2 of 2

: oedipal

Word History



Latin, from Greek Oidipous

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1910, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler

The first known use of Oedipus was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near




Oedipus complex

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Cite this Entry



“Oedipus.Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Oedipus. Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.

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Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective

: oedipal


2 of 2 noun

: oedipus complex

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Nglish: Translation of Oedipus for Spanish Speakers

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Name Oedipus on Name.Com. The meaning and origin of the name Oedipus.


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Name Oedipus reversed (anonymous): Pide

There are several meanings and translations for the name Oedipus:

1. Ancient Greek name (Οίδιπους) - "with swollen legs".

Oedipus - a descendant of Cadmus, from the Labdakid family, the son of the Theban king Laius and Jocasta, or Epicaste, a favorite hero of Greek folk tales and tragedies, due to the multitude of which it is very difficult to imagine the myth of Oedipus in its original form. According to the most common legend, the oracle predicted to Lai the birth of a son who would kill him, marry his own mother, and cover the entire Labdakid house with disgrace. Therefore, when a son was born to Laius, the parents, piercing his legs and tying them together (which caused them to swell), sent him to Cithaeron, where Oedipus was found by a shepherd who sheltered the boy and then brought him to Sicyon, or Corinth, to King Polybus, who raised adopted child as if it were his own son. Having once received a reproach at a feast for doubtful origin, Oedipus turned to the oracle for clarification and received advice from him - to beware of patricide and incest. As a result, Oedipus, who considered Polybus his father, left Sicyon. On the road, he met Laius, started a quarrel with him, and in his temper killed him and his retinue. At that time, in Thebes, the monster Sphinx was devastating, asking each riddle for several years in a row and devouring everyone who did not guess it. Oedipus managed to solve this riddle (what creature walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening? The answer is a man), as a result of which the Sphinx threw himself off a cliff and died. In gratitude for delivering the country from a long disaster, the Theban citizens made Oedipus their king and gave him the widow of Laius, Jocasta, his own mother, as his wife. Soon, the double crime committed by Oedipus out of ignorance was revealed, and Oedipus, in desperation, gouged out his own eyes, and Jocasta took her own life. According to an ancient legend (Homer, Odyssey, XI, 271 ff.) Oedipus remained to reign in Thebes and died, pursued by the Erinyes. Sophocles tells about the end of Oedipus' life in a different way: when the crimes of Oedipus were revealed, the Thebans, with the sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices, at the head expelled the elderly and blind king from Thebes, and he, accompanied by his faithful daughter Antigone, went to the town of Colon (in Attica), where in the sanctuary of Erinyes, who finally, thanks to the intervention of Apollo, subdued their anger, ended his life full of suffering. His memory was considered sacred, and his grave was one of the palladiums of Attica. As a character, Oedipus is depicted in the tragedies of Sophocles - "Oedipus Rex" and - "Oedipus in Colon" (both tragedies are available in a poetic Russian translation of D. S. Merezhkovsky, St. Petersburg, 1902), in the tragedy of Euripides - "Phoenician Women" (poetry. Russian translation of I. Annensky - "The World of God", 1898, No. 4) and in the tragedy of Seneca - "Oedipus". There were many other poetic works that dealt with the fate of Oedipus: these include the satirical drama of Aeschylus - "The Satirical Sphinx", the tragedies of Aeschylus, Euripides, Carkinus, Xenocles, Theodect, Eubulus, Julius Caesar, the epic work of Melet, etc. , which have not come down to us. works - "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles - one of the best tragedies of antiquity, which can compete with Shakespeare's "King Lear" in terms of the power of drama. nine0015

2. Turkish (Edip) form of the Arabic name Adib translation - "writer; author".

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oedipus - In Homer's Odyssey, Oedipus is the son of the Theban king Laius, who mistakenly married his own mother, who committed suicide when she found out the truth about her husband, while Oedipus continued to rule Thebes (see Jocasta). The Iliad also says that Oedipus was accidentally killed in battle and he was buried with military honors. The source for the later version of the Oedipus legend, which is associated with the image of an exiled king bearing the burden of his guilt, is undoubtedly the lost epic poem Thebais. The oracle of Apollo warns Laius that he will be killed at the hands of his son, born of Jocasta. Laius, trying to avoid his fate, ordered that the baby Oedipus be thrown on Mount Cithaeron with his legs tied; but there the Corinthian shepherd picks up the baby and takes it to his king Polybus. In Corinth, Oedipus is brought up as the son and heir of Polybus. One day at a party, one of the drunken guests tells Oedipus that he is not the real son of Polybus and his wife Merope. Then the embarrassed Oedipus goes to Delphi to learn the truth through the oracle. However, the oracle plunges Oedipus into even greater embarrassment: he must kill his father and marry his mother. In order to avoid the fulfillment of the prediction, Oedipus decides not to return to Corinth anymore and goes towards Thebes. Having accidentally met Laius on the road, Oedipus kills him in a quarrel. Arriving in Thebes, Oedipus saves their inhabitants from the sphinx, after which he is proclaimed king and he marries the widow of Laius Jocasta, that is, his mother. Oedipus and Jocasta have children: Antigone, Yemena, Eteocles and Polyneices. A few years later, Thebes is struck by an epidemic of plague, and the oracle reports that the only way to get rid of the scourge is to expel the killer Lai from Thebes. With this begins the tragedy of Sophocles "Oedipus the King". In the end, the truth is revealed, Oedipus gouges out his eyes in horror and, accompanied by Antigone, retires to: exile. After many years of wandering, Oedipus and Antigone come to the town of Colon in Attica, where Theseus gives them refuge, and then Oedipus mysteriously disappears in a sacred basin - this is the plot of the tragedy of Sophocles "Oedipus in Colon". Seneca wrote Oedipus following Sophocles. In the 20th century The myth of Oedipus became popular thanks to the interpretation of the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.
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