• synonyms


[in-kyuh-buh s, ing-]
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noun, plural in·cu·bi [in-kyuh-bahy, ing-] /ˈɪn kyəˌbaɪ, ˈɪŋ-/, in·cu·bus·es.
  1. 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).
  2. a nightmare.
  3. something that weighs upon or oppresses one like a nightmare.
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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 confusedincubus succubus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for incubus

Historical Examples

  • I now began to despise my body—I almost hated it as an incubus!

    The Prodigal Returns

    Lilian Staveley

  • Three times she strove to throw off the incubus, to speak, but in vain.

    At Pinney's Ranch

    Edward Bellamy

  • It relates that one night Incubus invaded a certain lady's bedroom.

  • But Incubus told her if she would so forsake him, he would be revenged upon her.

  • It has been an incubus of discouragement in all intellectual pursuits.

British Dictionary definitions for incubus


noun plural -bi (-ˌbaɪ) or -buses
  1. a demon believed in folklore to lie upon sleeping persons, esp to have sexual intercourse with sleeping womenCompare succubus
  2. something that oppresses, worries, or disturbs greatly, esp a nightmare or obsession
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

incubus in Medicine


(ĭnkyə-bəs, ĭng-)
n. pl. in•cu•bus•es
  1. An evil spirit believed to have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.
  2. A nightmare.
  3. An oppressive or nightmarish burden.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.