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[in-kyuh-buh s, ing-] /ˈɪn kyə bəs, ˈɪŋ-/
noun, plural incubi
[in-kyuh-bahy, ing-] /ˈɪn kyəˌbaɪ, ˈɪŋ-/ (Show IPA),
an imaginary demon or evil spirit supposed to descend upon sleeping persons, especially one fabled to have sexual intercourse with women during their sleep.
Compare succubus (def 1).
a nightmare.
something that weighs upon or oppresses one like a nightmare.
Origin of incubus
1175-1225; Middle English < Late Latin: a nightmare induced by such a demon, noun derivative of Latin incubāre to lie upon; see incubate
Can be confused
incubus, succubus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for incubus
Historical Examples
  • Perhaps it is this incubus of interruption that drives so many men to working late at night.

    The Book-Hunter at Home P. B. M. Allan
  • I wriggled my back in order to discover, if I could, the nature of the incubus.

  • It was one of those rash friendships that so often prove an incubus in afterlife.

    A Doll's House Henrik Ibsen
  • Remember that the Goodeniaceae have weighed like an incubus for years on my soul.

  • "My father was an incubus," Merlin said, as though that explained everything.

    The Eye of Wilbur Mook H. B. Hickey
  • I now began to despise my body—I almost hated it as an incubus!

    The Prodigal Returns Lilian Staveley
  • Everything in life looked too bright since I succeeded in ridding myself of this incubus, and, then I found you.

    Forging the Blades Bertram Mitford
  • I uncoiled the hose from my shoulder and eased the incubus from my back.

  • An incubus of disappointment weighed upon his soul and clouded his brow.

    Unleavened Bread Robert Grant
  • A man fettered and spell-bound by an incubus, is less helpless than I was.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for incubus


noun (pl) -bi (-ˌbaɪ), -buses
a demon believed in folklore to lie upon sleeping persons, esp to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women Compare succubus
something that oppresses, worries, or disturbs greatly, esp a nightmare or obsession
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin, from incubāre to lie upon; see incubate
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 incubus

c.1200, from Late Latin (Augustine), from Latin incubo "nightmare, one who lies down on (the sleeper)," from incubare "to lie upon" (see incubate). Plural is incubi. In the Middle Ages their existence was recognized by law.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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incubus in Medicine

incubus in·cu·bus (ĭn'kyə-bəs, ĭng'-)
n. pl. in·cu·bus·es or in·cu·bi (-bī')

  1. An evil spirit believed to have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.

  2. A nightmare.

  3. An oppressive or nightmarish burden.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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