Monday, October 4, 2010


Nympholepsy \NIM-fuh-lep-see\ , noun;
1. A frenzy of emotion, as for something unattainable.
2. An ecstasy supposed by the ancients to be inspired by nymphs.

My husband listens to a late-night radio talk show called Coast to Coast AM. This is the kind of show where the host interviews people who most of us wouldn't give the time of day. They talk about paranormal stuff, end-of-days predictions, fairies, alien abduction, and every other crazy thing you can think of. This word has to have been used on that show at some point, because where else would this word ever be apropos?

The etymology of this word derives from ancient Greek νυμφ{goacu}ληπτος, and is a combination form nymph- + -o- + -lepsy. The suffix -lepsy indicates an attack or seizure of some sort, so this is a 'nymph attack' or 'nymph seizure', and if you know that nymphomania is hypersexuality, the given definition starts to make sense. The OED notes that the 'frenzy' this word indicates is especially useful in describing the emotions a man feels towards a nice looking girl they can't have.

*Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Monday, October 4

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