Definitions for orpheusˈɔr fi əs, -fyus
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
Or•phe•usˈɔr fi əs, -fyus(n.)
a poet and lyre-player of Greek legend who tried to free his dead wife Eurydice from the underworld by charming the god Hades with his music.
Or•phe•anɔrˈfi ən, ˈɔr fi ən(adj.)
(Greek mythology) a great musician; when his wife Eurydice died he went to Hades to get her back but failed
A Thracian musician and poet, who failed to retrieve his wife Eurydice from Hades.
Origin: Greek Ὀρφεύς, built from an uncertain root with the -εύς suffix. Perhaps root-cognate to ὀρφανός "orphan".
The Nuttall Encyclopedia
in the Greek mythology son of Apollo and the Muse Calliopë, famed for his skill on the lyre, from which the strains were such as not only calmed and swayed the rude soul of nature, but persuaded even the inexorable Pluto to relent; for one day when his wife Eurydice was taken away from him, he descended with his lyre to the lower world and prevailed on the nether king by the spell he wielded to allow her to accompany him back, but on the condition that he must not, as she followed him, turn round and look; this condition he failed to fulfil, and he lost her again, but this time for ever; whereupon, as the story goes, he gave himself up to unappeasable lamentings, which attracted round him a crowd of upbraiding Mænades, who in their indignation took up stones to stone him and mangled him to death, only his lyre as it floated down the river seaward kept sounding "Eurydice! Eurydice!" till it was caught up by Zeus and placed in memorial of him among the stars of the sky.