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See more synonyms for nepenthe on Thesaurus.com
  1. a drug or drink, or the plant yielding it, mentioned by ancient writers as having the power to bring forgetfulness of sorrow or trouble.
  2. anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, especially of sorrow or trouble.
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Origin of nepenthe

1590–1600; < Latin nēpenthes < Greek nēpenthés herb for soothing, noun use of neuter of nēpenthḗs sorrowless, equivalent to nē- not + pénth(os) sorrow + -ēs adj. suffix
Related formsne·pen·the·an, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for nepenthe

anesthetic, opium, painkiller, dope, sedative, opiate, tranquilizer, heroin, merchandise, junk, fix, hypnotic, soporific, stuff, analgesic, anodyne, downer, lenitive, laudanum, somnifacient

Examples from the Web for nepenthe

Historical Examples of nepenthe

  • Perhaps it was a berry of the nepenthe, which brought oblivion.

    The Works of Theophile Gautier, Volume 5

    Theophile Gautier

  • This particular preparation of valerian is nepenthe for the nerves.

  • In the Odyssey, in connection with Helen, mention is made of nepenthe.

  • Crown us with asphodel flowers, that are wet with the dews of nepenthe.

  • I am getting restless again, and there flow the waters of Nepenthe.

    The Call of the Town

    John Alexander Hammerton

British Dictionary definitions for nepenthe


  1. a drug, or the plant providing it, that ancient writers referred to as a means of forgetting grief or trouble
  2. anything that produces sleep, forgetfulness, or pleasurable dreaminess
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Derived Formsnepenthean, adjective

Word Origin for nepenthe

C16: via Latin from Greek nēpenthes sedative made from a herb, from nē- not + penthos grief
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 nepenthe


1570s, nepenthes, from Greek nepenthes, from ne- "no, not" (see un-) + penthos "pain, grief," from PIE *kwent(h)- "to suffer" (see pathos). A drug of Egypt mentioned in the "Odyssey" as capable of banishing grief or trouble from the mind. The -s is a proper part of the word, but likely was mistaken in English as a plural affix and dropped.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper