An incubus is a scary mythological character that visits people in their sleep, a kind of nightmare demon. If you dream that an incubus is weighing you down as you snooze, you'll probably wake in a panic.

Incubus comes from the Latin incubo, "nightmare, one who lies down on (the sleeper)," which perfectly describes the legendary evil spirit that crushes sleepers, triggering terrible nightmares and making them feel like they're suffocating. In the Middle Ages, not only did people believe incubi (yes, that's the plural) were real; they passed laws against these terrifying spirits. These days, an apparent incubus is likely to be explained away as sleep paralysis, or a waking dream.

Definitions of incubus

n a male demon believed to visit people while they sleep and to consort with sleeping women

Type of:
daemon, daimon, demon, devil, fiend
an evil supernatural being

n an oppressive situation resembling a terrifying dream

Type of:
a complex or critical or unusual difficulty

n someone who causes great distress or anxiety

Type of:
disagreeable person, unpleasant person
a person who is not pleasant or agreeable

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.