from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A frenzy supposed by ancient peoples to have been induced by nymphs.
  • n. An emotional frenzy.
  • from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

    • n. A frenzied state of (usually erotic) emotion, especially concerning something or someone unattainable.
    • from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

      • n. A species of demoniac enthusiasm or possession coming upon one who had accidentally looked upon a nymph; ecstasy.
      • from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

        • n. An ecstasy; a divine frenzy.


  • A terrible malady is she, a malady the ancients knew of and called nympholepsy -- a beautiful name evocative and symbolic of its ideal aspect,

    Confessions of a Young Man

  • The word we want is "nympholepsy", which doesn't quite mean what you think it means.

    The Guardian World News

  • It is this repetition—not the nympholepsy itself, but the endless recurrence of its self-imprisoning instants—that eventually dooms and destroys Humbert.

    Archive 2009-10-01

  • The seduction of Lolita exists in discrete moments that are sufficient in themselves to constitute the heaven and hell of nympholepsy.

    Archive 2009-10-01

  • How often have _we_ -- martyrs to a hopeless nympholepsy -- strayed through that piazza, at the self same hour -- there deemed that the heart would break -- but never thought that it might slowly wither.

    A Love Story

  • De Quincey has done so in prose, for instance, and Lord Byron talks of 'The nympholepsy of a fond despair,' though he never was accused of being overridden by his Greek.

    The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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

    Godolphin, Volume 2.


The word 'nympholepsy' comes from Greek roots meaning "nymph" and "to seize".