Today I learned that sphinx has two correct plurals: sphinxes and sphinges. We have the former because it's how we would naturally pluralize it in English, and we have the latter because it reflects the word's origins in the third declension Latin noun sphinx. The word is from Ancient Greek, where it meant "the strangler". That is believed to further derive from the verb sphingein, which meant "to squeeze". It would be really cool if that's true, because sphingein also became sphinkter, which could be used to refer to anything that binds or squeezes tightly. That, through Latin, became the English word sphincter. However, there may be another origin: some etymologists think that sphinx could derive from Egyptian szpnh, which meant "divine image". Hopefully that's not true.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.