Sisyphus

[sis-uh-fuh s]
noun Classical Mythology.
  1. a son of Aeolus and ruler of Corinth, noted for his trickery: he was punished in Tartarus by being compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope, the stone always escaping him near the top and rolling down again.
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British Dictionary definitions for sisyphus

Sisyphus

noun
  1. Greek myth a king of Corinth, punished in Hades for his misdeeds by eternally having to roll a heavy stone up a hill: every time he approached the top, the stone escaped his grasp and rolled to the bottom
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 sisyphus

Sisyphus

King of Corinth, famed as "the craftiest of men," he was condemned in the afterlife to roll uphill a stone which perpetually rolls down again; Greek Sisyphos, a name of unknown origin. Liddell and Scott suggest a reduplication of syphos "the crafty" (with Aeolic -u- for -o-), but Klein calls this folk-etymology.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sisyphus in Culture

Sisyphus

[(sis-uh-fuhs)]

A king in classical mythology who offended Zeus and was punished in Hades by being forced to roll an enormous boulder to the top of a steep hill. Every time the boulder neared the top, it would roll back down, and Sisyphus would have to start over.

Note

A difficult and futile endeavor may be called a “labor of Sisyphus” or a “Sisyphean task.”
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.