Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Greek Mythology A monster represented as a serpent with the head and breasts of a woman that ate children and sucked the blood from men.
  • noun A female vampire.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In fir. and Roman mythology, an enticing witch, who charmed children and youths for the purpose of feeding on their blood and flesh, like the later vampire; a female demon; hence, in general, a destroying witch or hag.
  • noun In zoology:
  • noun A Fabrician (1775) genus of longicorn beetles, now the type of the family Lamiidæ. L. ædilis is a species the male of which has antenæ) four times as long as the body.
  • noun A genus of sharks: same as Lamna.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Class. Myth.) A monster capable of assuming a woman's form, who was said to devour human beings or suck their blood; a vampire; a sorceress; a witch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Greek mythology A monster with the head and breasts of a woman and the lower half of a serpent, which ate children and sucked the blood from men.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (folklore) a corpse that rises at night to drink the blood of the living

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Latin, from Greek.]

Examples

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  • "I could feel the faintly pebbled texture of the rash upon his skin, and the thought came unbidden of the lamia. A creature smooth and cool to the touch, a shape-shifter, passionately venomous, its nature infectious. A swift bite and the snake's poison spreading, slowing his heart, chilling his warm blood; I could imagine tiny scales rising under his skin in the dark."

    —Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (NY: Bantam Dell, 2001), 1176–1177

    January 29, 2010

  • A definition that only existed in lexicographer Kory Stamper's mind for several seconds after receiving an e-mail about the word: "Mythical foolishness of no value whatsoever to enrich a person's thinking."

    May 2, 2013