[sur-ber-uh s]

noun, plural Cer·ber·us·es, Cer·ber·i [sur-buh-rahy] /ˈsɜr bəˌraɪ/ for 2.

Also Kerberos. Classical Mythology. a dog, usually represented as having three heads, that guarded the entrance of the infernal regions.
a formidable and often surly keeper or guard.

Related formsCer·be·re·an [ser-beer-ee-uh n] /sərˈbɪər i ən/, Cer·ber·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cerberus

Contemporary Examples of cerberus

Historical Examples of cerberus

  • Cerberus opened it, and a cry of joy ran through the prison.


    James Anthony Froude

  • Cerberus welcomed him with a 'St. Mary, I am glad to see thee.'


    James Anthony Froude

  • Troop-ships arrived, but the most welcome was the Cerberus, with the three major-generals.

  • Rosina rang the gate-bell, and the old braided Cerberus admitted them grumblingly.

    Olive in Italy

    Moray Dalton

  • You are not like Cerberus, three gentlemen at once, are you?

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

British Dictionary definitions for cerberus



Greek myth a dog, usually represented as having three heads, that guarded the entrance to Hades
a sop to Cerberus a bribe or something given to propitiate a potential source of danger or problems
Derived FormsCerberean (səˈbɪərɪən), adjective
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

Word Origin and History for cerberus


"watch-dog guardian of Hades," late 14c., Latinized form of Greek Kerberos, of unknown origin, according to Klein perhaps cognate with Sanskrit karbarah, sabalah "spotted, speckled;" Sabalah was the name of one of the two dogs of Yama.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cerberus in Culture



In classical mythology, the three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to Hades.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.