Definition of Delphic in US English:


(also Delphian)


  • 1Relating to the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi.

    • ‘The Delphic oracles responded to questions about the future by issuing prophecies.’
    • ‘Are we looking for a Delphic Oracle in the Scriptures, especially in Revelation?’
    • ‘Croesus asks the Delphic oracle what will happen if he attacks the Persians.’
    • ‘However, if he is right, then the Delphic oracle's injunction to ‘Know thyself’ may be harder to realize than Socrates or subsequent philosophers and scientists ever imagined.’
    • ‘The climactic moment of this final change is Asclepius's entry into Rome at the appeal of a Delphic oracle, who summons him to help this city against a devastating pestilence.’
    • ‘It is said of Sybil, the Delphic divinatory oracle of ancient Greece, that she asked for immortality but forgot to ask for youth.’
    • ‘For instance, the Delphic oracle is said to have told Chaerephon that no man was wiser than Socrates.’
    • ‘Suggests that intoxicating nectar may have inspired the mantic states of maenads and the Delphic oracle in ancient Greece.’
    • ‘He thereupon bribed the Delphic oracle to declare Demaratus illegitimate and had him deposed, but the intrigue came to light and he fled Sparta, possibly to stir up revolt among the Arcadians.’
    • ‘One knows not to question the wisdom of the Delphic seers, those voices of prescience whose cryptic counsels were so poorly interpreted by their clientele.’
    • ‘In addition to the two most famous Delphic exhortations, we have copies of inscriptions from two columns at the temple itself.’
    • ‘‘Know thyself’ is the ancient Delphic lesson for every age.’
    • ‘On the pronouncements of the Delphic oracle, Heraclitus wrote that it ‘neither says nor conceals, but gives a sign’.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, through the Delphic oracle (above all), the polis could ensure some, if ambiguous, assurance of the correctness of its religious discourse.’
    1. 1.1 (typically of a pronouncement) deliberately obscure or ambiguous.
      • ‘I have to say that the document is Delphic to say the least.’
      • ‘But that's still a lot of money, so what about disclosing instead of being Delphic?’
      • ‘How pithy, how profoundly oracular, how majestically Delphian!’
      • ‘The time-trial stages are known as the ‘race of truth’ but Monday's was positively Delphic in its verdict.’
      • ‘Such Delphic obscurity was not inspired by mere perverseness.’
      • ‘What would his Delphic utterances mean for interest rates?’
      • ‘Reporters are given the odd Delphic comment and, using their political antennas, then pin the story together.’
      • ‘There was a deliberate point to those Delphic utterances.’
      • ‘At least in recent years, statesmen have been reluctant to define national interests with anything other than Delphic ambiguity.’
      • ‘At long last, those Delphic numbers get the scrutiny they deserve.’
      • ‘Even this Delphic utterance may positively mislead.’
      • ‘He's remained fairly Delphic about that and a number of other issues today.’
      • ‘In the past, when the two countries talked about regional security and ways to ensure the relevance of the alliance, they preferred Delphic statements that prompted as many questions as answers.’
      • ‘His reasons for thus disapproving, however, are much less clear; his utterances on this topic, as on others, are fascinating but Delphic in everything but length.’
      • ‘Papal pronouncements concerning the war in Abyssinia in 1935-6 had been Delphic.’
      • ‘They treat their remarks as some kind of Delphic code, analyzing where they place their commas, the number of syllables in their words, and other similarly meaningless criteria.’
      • ‘The second sentence of paragraph 41 of the Court's judgment is framed in not untypical Delphic terms.’
      • ‘But the jury with its customary Delphic clarity did not reveal precisely how they had come to that figure.’
      abstruse, recondite, arcane, esoteric, recherché, occult
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