Definition of incubus in US English:



  • 1A male demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women.

    • ‘The incubus of legend may have been a wicked sprite driven by uncontrolled lust, but the only thing you'll covet after watching its movie namesake is a pair of cosmetic tweezers and a copy of Demons for Dummies.’
    • ‘Later in the Middle Ages, of course, these incubi (and their female counterparts, succubi) were believed to have an independent existence.’
    • ‘Succubi and incubi are pretty much all about sex.’
    • ‘Has anyone had any experiences with what might be considered a succubus or incubus?’
    • ‘According to one legend, the incubus and the succubus were fallen angels.’
    • ‘He is said to have been the child of a human mother and an incubus, or demon.’
    • ‘Soon it was thought incubi produced children through the demonic version of the Virgin Birth.’
    • ‘For most of the history of Christianity there are reports of Satan having sex with humans, either as an incubus (male devil) or succubus (female devil).’
    • ‘What incubi introduce into the womb is not any ordinary human semen in normal quantity, but abundant, very thick, very warm, rich in spirits and free from serosity.’
    • ‘Like an incubus, it sucks all the economic resources of the world, and robs it of the best talent.’
    • ‘In the Old Testament the incubus was viewed as a voluptuous being eager to mate with women.’
    • ‘However, if we look at the details of nocturnal sexual molestations, whether by the Devil, demons, or incubi, as described in trial confessions, we find little mention of paralysis, inarticulacy, suffocation, or chest pressure.’
    • ‘Most early accounts of incubi involved nuns as victims, although there were also virtuous women and priests.’
    • ‘Merlin was the son of an incubus and a human, condemned to age backwards, so that he predicted the past, remembered the future and used his skills to preserve the time line.’
    • ‘The earliest literary sources have Merlin as a wonder child, born of an incubus (a male demon), and a Welsh nun.’
    • ‘This meaning of cheese corresponds with the marked, sometimes explicit, sexuality often present both in the Circean narratives and in medieval interpretations of the Mare as assaults by lascivious incubi.’
    devil, fiend, evil spirit, fallen angel, cacodemon
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    1. 1.1 A cause of distress or anxiety.
      ‘debt is a big incubus in developing countries’
      • ‘In the country districts the task of carrying out the provisions of the new Act was irksome enough; in the towns and cities it became an incubus.’
      • ‘Many economists have in recent decades come to be persuaded that there is a way to get the political incubus off the economy's back.’
      • ‘But these ex-communist, university-based scholars were made to carry the incubus of the past.’
      • ‘If I didn't know better, I would suppose that city planning staffs were dying to rethink and overhaul the incubus of pointless or destructive municipal, state, and federal planning regulations.’
      • ‘It was a Christian Democratic party that had its roots and values in the Resistance and that purged the incubus of the traditional association of Catholicism with the Right.’
    2. 1.2archaic A nightmare.
      • ‘The Alp has widely been regarded as simply the German counterpart of the incubus or nightmare.’
      bad dream, night terrors
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Middle English: late Latin form of Latin incubo ‘nightmare’, from incubare ‘lie on’ (see incubate).