[pahy-thuh-nis, pith-uh-]


a woman believed to be possessed by a soothsaying spirit, as the priestess of Apollo at Delphi.
a woman who practices divination.


Origin of pythoness

1325–75; python2 + -ess; replacing Middle English phytonesse < Middle French

Usage note

See -ess. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pythoness

Historical Examples of pythoness

British Dictionary definitions for pythoness



a woman, such as Apollo's priestess at Delphi, believed to be possessed by an oracular spirit
a female soothsayer

Word Origin for pythoness

C14 phitonesse, ultimately from Greek Puthōn Python
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 pythoness

late 14c., "woman with the power of soothsaying," from Old French phitonise (13c.), from Late Latin pythonissa, used in Vulgate of the Witch of Endor (I Sam. xxviii:7), and often treated as her proper name, literally fem. of pytho "familiar spirit;" which ultimately is connected with the title of the prophetess of the Delphic Oracle, Greek pythia hiereia, from Pythios, an epithet of Apollo, from Pytho, older name of the region of Delphi (see python).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper