• Relating to the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi.
  • (Typically of a pronouncement) Deliberately obscure or ambiguous.

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Example Sentences

“The long-haired stranger sitting at the bar had a mysterious, Delphic air about him.”

“He wrote a number of Delphic riddles to keep his readers guessing.”

“The commentators’ election predictions were Delphic and hard to follow.”

Word Origin

Greek, late 16th century

Why this word?

The ancient Greeks believed Delphi to be the center of the world, but today the sacred precinct is perhaps best remembered for Pythia, “the Oracle of Delphi.” Over several centuries, many high priestesses of Pythia served at Delphi’s Temple of Apollo. Together, these women are remembered as a powerful oracle, and, long after her time, one of the most powerful female figures in the world. It’s thanks to this enigmatic figure that we have the eponymous adjective “Delphic.” When one priestess died, another was chosen, and between the sixth century BCE and the fourth century CE, Pythia was considered the most authoritative oracle in the country. She was widely praised for her prophecies, which concerned a wide range of topics, including government matters, farming schedules, and affairs of the heart. 

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