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[pig-mey-lee-uh n, -meyl-yuh n] /pɪgˈmeɪ li ən, -ˈmeɪl yən/
Classical Mythology. a sculptor and king of Cyprus who carved an ivory statue of a maiden and fell in love with it. It was brought to life, in response to his prayer, by Aphrodite.
(italics) a comedy (1912) by George Bernard Shaw. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for Pygmalion
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  • Like Pygmalion, I fell in love with a face that I sculptured last year.

  • Pygmalion's hoarded wealth is borne overseas; a woman leads the work.

  • Her form lived as long as stone could live, and her soul lived as long as Pygmalion could love her.

    Children of the Dawn Elsie Finnimore Buckley
  • The most remarkable piece that he produced was his comedy "Pygmalion" in 1775.

  • I had made the image as entirely as ever Pygmalion made Galatea, and I had worshipped it.

    At the Age of Eve Kate Trimble Sharber
  • I am not harder than the marble of which Pygmalion made the statue he loved.

  • The cunning came back to Pygmalion's hand, and many a fair statue did he make for the people of Cyprus.

    Children of the Dawn Elsie Finnimore Buckley
  • Suppose she did Pygmalion and Galatea what would she say first?

    Ulysses James Joyce
British Dictionary definitions for Pygmalion


(Greek myth) a king of Cyprus, who fell in love with the statue of a woman he had sculpted and which his prayers brought to life as Galatea
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 Pygmalion

also the Pygmalion word, a British euphemistic substitute for bloody in mid-20c. from its notorious use in Bernard Shaw's play of the same name (1914: "Walk? Not bloody likely!"). The Greek legend of the sculptor/goldsmith and the beautiful statue he made and wished to life, is centered on Cyprus and his name might ultimately be Phoenician.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Pygmalion in Culture
Pygmalion [(pig-may-lee-uhn)]

In classical mythology, a sculptor who at first hated women but then fell in love with a statue he made of a woman. He prayed to Venus that she would find him a woman like the statue. Instead, Venus made the statue come to life.

Note: The play Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, adapts this theme: a professor trains a girl from the gutter to speak and behave like a lady, and then he and his new creation become attached to each other. This play became the basis for the musical comedy My Fair Lady.
Pygmalion [(pig-mayl-yuhn, pig-may-lee-uhn) (1913)]

A play by George Bernard Shaw, about a professor, Henry Higgins, who trains a poor, uneducated girl, Eliza Doolittle, to act and speak like a lady. Shaw based his story on a tale from Greek mythology about a sculptor who carves a statue of a woman and falls in love with it (see under “Mythology and Folklore”).

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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