• synonyms


noun, plural nym·pho·lep·sies.
  1. an ecstasy supposed by the ancients to be inspired by nymphs.
  2. a frenzy of emotion, as for something unattainable.
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Origin of nympholepsy

1765–75; formed on nympholept, on the model of epilepsy
Related formsnym·pho·lep·tic [nim-fuh-lep-tik] /ˌnɪm fəˈlɛp tɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nympholepsy

Historical Examples of nympholepsy

  • Through solitude this passion may be exalted into a frenzy like a nympholepsy.

    The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey, Vol. 1 (2 vols)

    Thomas De Quincey

  • The most common disease to genius is nympholepsy—the saddening for a spirit that the world knows not.

    Godolphin, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • But he was busy with his new story, in the throes of nympholepsy, seeing visions, hearing voices.

  • When the show was over he abandoned Miss Clampett on her door-step and went to his own boarding-house in a nympholepsy.

  • Nympholepsy is no more a Greek word than epilepsy, and nobody would or could object to epilepsy or apoplexy as a Greek word.

British Dictionary definitions for nympholepsy


noun plural -sies
  1. a state of violent emotion, esp when associated with a desire for something one cannot have
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Derived Formsnympholeptic, adjective

Word Origin for nympholepsy

C18: from nympholept, on the model of epilepsy
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 nympholepsy


"frenzy or rapture supposed to take hold of a man upon gazing on a nymph," 1775, coined by Richard Chandler, in "Travels in Greece," from nymph, on model of epilepsy, with second element from stem of Greek lambanein "to take." Especially "an ecstasy or frenzy caused by desire for the unattainable." Ancient Greek had nympholeptos "caught by nymphs." Related: Nympholept; nympholeptic.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper