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lamia

[ley-mee-uh]
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noun, plural la·mi·as, la·mi·ae [ley-mee-ee] /ˈleɪ miˌi/ for 1, 2.
  1. Classical Mythology. one of a class of fabulous monsters, commonly represented with the head and breast of a woman and the body of a serpent, said to allure youths and children in order to suck their blood.
  2. a vampire; a female demon.
  3. (initial capital letter, italics) a narrative poem (1819) by John Keats.
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Origin of lamia

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin < Greek lámia a female man-eater
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lamiae

Historical Examples

  • Socrates used to call the opinions of the many by the name of Lamiae,—bugbears to frighten children.

    Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

    Marcus Aurelius Antoninus


British Dictionary definitions for lamiae

lamia

noun plural -mias or -miae (-mɪˌiː)
  1. classical myth one of a class of female monsters depicted with a snake's body and a woman's head and breasts
  2. a vampire or sorceress
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Word Origin

C14: via Latin from Greek Lamia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lamiae

lamia

n.

late 14c., from Latin lamia, from Greek lamia "female vampire," literally "swallower, lecher," from laimos "throat, gullet." Probably cognate with Latin lemures "spirits of the dead" (see lemur). Used in early translations of the Bible for screech owls and sea monsters. Sometimes also, apparently, mermaids.

Also kynde erreþ in som beestes wondirliche j-schape, as it fareþ in a beest þat hatte lamia, þat haþ an heed as a mayde & body as a grym fissche[;] whan þat best lamya may fynde ony man, first a flatereþ wiþ hym with a wommannes face and makeþ hym ligge by here while he may dure, & whanne he may noferþere suffice to here lecherye þanne he rendeþ hym and sleþ and eteþ hym. [John of Trevisa, translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper