A growing assortment of words and definitions used in the Early Modern era. See the Guide for more information.
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This word is forgotten less often than its meaning, as it is often used when nymphomania is intended. Nympholepsy is a state of rapture inspired in men by nymphs; hence, an urge toward something unattainable. De Quincey in his RECOLLECTION OF THE LAKES AND THE LAKE POETS (1839) said: He languished with a sort of despairing nympholepsy after intellectual pleasures. And Edward Bulwer-Lytton in GODOLPHIN (1833) said that the most common disease to genius is nympholepsy -- the saddening for a spirit that the world knows not. Hence nympholept; Edward Bulwer-Lytton in RIENZI has: The very nympholept of freedom, yet of power -- of knowledge, yet of religion! and Birrell in OBITER DICTA (1884) : The nympholepts of truth are profoundly interesting figures in . . . history. Also nympholeptic. Thus a nymphomaniac is a woman obsessed with sex; a nympholept is a devoted and often ascetic man.


A gem. The word, which Edward Bulwer-Lytton uses twice, is an error; he misunderstood the Old English symbol for dg which looks like a z, thus reading zimm for gimm, gem. Thus in HAROLD (1848): Taking from his own neck a collar of zimmes . . . of great price.
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