Definitions

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

  • n. A drug mentioned in the Odyssey as a remedy for grief.
  • n. Something that induces forgetfulness of sorrow or eases pain.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A drug used by the ancients to give relief from pain and sorrow; -- by some supposed to have been opium or hasheesh. Hence, anything soothing and comforting.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as nepenthes. 1.

Etymologies

Alteration of Latin nēpenthes, from Greek nēpenthes (pharmakon), grief-banishing (drug), nepenthe, neuter of nēpenthēs : nē-, not; see ne in Indo-European roots + penthos, grief; see kwent(h)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Back-formation from nepenthes. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • That's because you're always lolling about in the arms of Morphee. Or, as we Irish prefer to say, the arms of Murphy.

    September 30, 2011

  • Nevermore. I know not Lethe nor Nepenthe.

    September 30, 2011

  • Quaff, oh quaff.

    September 30, 2011

  • A nepenthe is said to be a potion that soothes by causing a person to forget bad memories.

    I first came across it as the name of the main character in The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip (love her!).

    April 30, 2009

  • "...he was still so stupid that he might have been stuffed with poppy, mandrake and nepenthe, and it took him some moments to understand the steward's cry, 'Come on, sir, We'm sunk.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque, 242

    February 29, 2008

  • Oh, way to take all the fun out of getting wasted, rocks....
    ;-)

    October 10, 2007

  • Ah, but the relief that nepenthes tempts us with comes by way of forgetting. Thus, having no recollection of our prior woes, isn't it likely we will simply find our way right back to worry and pain?

    October 10, 2007

  • Think it's over-the-counter yet? ;-)

    October 6, 2007

  • From Odysseus, a substance or drug that relieves one of all worry and pain.

    October 6, 2007

  • From Odysseus, a substance or drug that relieves one of all worry and pain.

    October 6, 2007

  • Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone,
    In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena
    Is of such power to stir up joy as this ...

    Milton, Comus

    December 16, 2006