1. the portion of a shoe or boot upper that covers the instep and toes.
  2. something patched up or pieced together.
  3. Jazz. an accompaniment, usually improvised, consisting of a succession of simple chords.
verb (used with object)
  1. to furnish with a vamp, especially to repair (a shoe or boot) with a new vamp.
  2. to patch up; repair.
  3. to give (something) a new appearance by adding a patch or piece.
  4. to concoct or invent (often followed by up): He vamped up a few ugly rumors to discredit his enemies.
  5. Jazz. to improvise (an accompaniment or the like).
verb (used without object)
  1. Jazz. to improvise an accompaniment, tune, etc.

Origin of vamp

1175–1225; Middle English vampe < Anglo-French; Middle French avant-pie, equivalent to avant- fore- (see avaunt) + pie foot (French pied; see -ped)
Related formsvamp·er, nounvamp·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vamper

Historical Examples of vamper

  • A vamper I was not, but if any help was wanted there was hope.

    The Woman Who Toils

    Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst

British Dictionary definitions for vamper


  1. a seductive woman who exploits men by use of her sexual charms
  1. to exploit (a man) in the fashion of a vamp
Derived Formsvamper, nounvampish, adjective

Word Origin for vamp

C20: short for vampire


  1. something patched up to make it look new
  2. the reworking of a theme, story, etc
  3. an improvised accompaniment, consisting largely of chords
  4. the front part of the upper of a shoe
  1. (tr often foll by up) to give a vamp to; make a renovation of
  2. to improvise (an accompaniment) to (a tune)
Derived Formsvamper, noun

Word Origin for vamp

C13: from Old French avantpié the front part of a shoe (hence, something patched), from avant- fore- + pié foot, from Latin pēs
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 vamper



"extemporize on a piano," 1789, originally a noun meaning "part of a stocking that covers the foot and ankle" (early 13c.), from Anglo-French *vaumpé, from Old French avantpié, from avant "in front" + pié "foot." Sense evolved to "provide a stocking with a new vamp" (1590s), to "patch up, repair" (cf. revamp) to "extemporize." Related: Vamped; vamping.



"seductive woman," 1911, short for vampire. First attested use is earlier than the release of the Fox film "A Fool There Was" (January 1915), with sultry Theda Bara in the role of The Vampire. But the movie was based on a play of that name that had been a Broadway hit (title and concept from a Kipling poem, "The Vampire"), and the word may ultimately trace to Bara's role. At any rate, Bara (real name Theodosia Goodman) remains the classic vamp.

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool, he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I.)

[Kipling, "The Vampire"]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper