crytoscopophilia love



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  • 'If you harbour an urge to look through the windows of the homes you pass, there is a word for the condition: crytoscopophilia.'

    December 1, 2006

  • Fell in love with crytoscopophilia 15 years ago when I first encountered in Bryson's charming book. It put a name on a condition that I'd cheerfully suffered from since childhood. Here is the problem I have with this word: I can find it nowhere else. All roads lead back to Bryson, and I believe the word originated with a typo. I'm not an etymologist, but I believe the word should be cryPto- for hidden rather than cryto- for frozen. Just makes sense.

    Can anyone set me straight, or has anyone else been bothered by this?

    February 23, 2008

  • Crytoscopophilia is indeed a misspelling of cryptoscopophilia. I think it first appeared in Willard R. Espy's An Almanac of Words at Play in 1975. I have a copy of the book, but it's not indexed. I'll see if I can root it out.

    February 23, 2008

  • Mollusque, so gratified. . .

    February 24, 2008

  • I found myself practicing this while riding home last night. Where the urge comes from, I don't know. :-)

    February 25, 2008

  • Found it: p. 304 of An Almanac of Words at Play, with the expected definition "The desire to look through the windows of homes that one passes by". (What is it about passing by?--see the definition of bovilexia).

    Espy attributes cryptoscopophilia along with melcryptovestimentaphilia, dyscalligynia, ecdemolagnia, genuglyphics, haptevoluptas, and iatronudia to Cyclopedic Lexicon of Sex, on the authority of Darryl Francis. However, J. E. Schmidt's Cyclopedic Lexicon of Sex: Exotic Practices, Expressions, Variations of the Libido (1967) has been scanned by Google Books, and none of these terms seem to occur there, so perhaps Espy (or Francis) invented them.

    I've just ordered Schmidt's book on Abebooks, so will report further when it arrives.

    February 25, 2008

  • Schmidt's book has arrived, and cryptoscopophilia proves, as expected, to be the original spelling. Schmidt also proves to be the coiner of the other words Espy selected (which were among the milder ones).

    February 28, 2008