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[ed-uh-puh s, ee-duh-] /ˈɛd ə pəs, ˈi də-/
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for Oedipus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sulla celebrated the festival for the victory in Thebes at the fountain of Oedipus, where he erected a stage.

    Plutarch's Lives, Volume II Aubrey Stewart & George Long
  • Oedipus and Amyntor and Theseus cursed their children, and their curses took effect.

    Laws Plato
  • There is no carefully interwoven plot such as tragedy presents, for example in Oedipus Rex.

    Essays on the Greek Romances Elizabeth Hazelton Haight
  • Many and many an Oedipus arrives; he has the whole mystery teeming in his brain.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Many and many an Oedipus arrives: he has the whole mystery teeming in his brain.

    Essays Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The Agamemnon, the Oedipus, the Bacchae are not to be explained wholly by them.

  • Jocasta died, and Oedipus took the doom upon himself, and left Thebes.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew Josephine Preston Peabody
  • He had fortunately, at that time, just finished his Oedipus at Colonos.

British Dictionary definitions for Oedipus


(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
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Word Origin and History for Oedipus

son of Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, Greek, literally "swollen-foot," from oidan "to swell" (from PIE *oid-; see edema) + pous (genitive podos) "foot" (see foot (n.)). Oedipus complex (1910) coined by Freud. In Latin, figurative references to Oedipus generally referred to solving riddles. Oedipus effect (1957) is Karl Popper's term for "the self-fulfilling nature of prophecies or predictions."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Oedipus in Culture
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.

Note: The story of Oedipus is the subject of the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.
Note: The Oedipus complex, identified by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, takes its name from the story of Oedipus.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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