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noun, plural ne·pen·thes.
  1. nepenthe.
  2. any of various tropical Asian and Australian pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes, having leaves usually in the form of cylindrical tubes.
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Origin of nepenthes

From New Latin; see origin at nepenthe


  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

Examples from the Web for nepenthes

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for nepenthes


  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

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 nepenthes



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