Definition of Oedipus complex in English:

Share this entry

Oedipus complex

Pronunciation: /ˈedəpəs ˌkämpleks/


(In Freudian theory) the complex of emotions aroused in a young child, typically around the age of four, by an unconscious sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and a wish to exclude the parent of the same sex. (The term was originally applied to boys, the equivalent in girls being called the Electra complex.).
Example sentences
  • The Oedipus complex is the psychoanalytic term everyone knows, and the ideas behind it were first mooted in 1899's The Interpretation of Dreams.
  • Jung also argued that the Oedipus complex was not the universal phenomenon that Freud declared it to be.
  • This was to become the personal (though by no means exclusive) basis for his theory of the Oedipus complex.


Early 20th century: by association with Oedipus.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Oed·i·pus com·plex

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.