nepenthe

play
noun ne·pen·the \nə-ˈpen(t)-thē\

Definition of nepenthe

  1. 1 :  a potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow

  2. 2 :  something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering

nepenthean

play \nə-ˈpen(t)-thē-ən\ adjective

nepenthe was our Word of the Day on 04/12/2013. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

Nepenthe and its ancestors have long been popular with poets. Homer used the Greek grandparent of "nepenthe" in a way many believe is a reference to opium. The term was a tonic to Edmund Spenser, who wrote, "In her other hand a cup she hild, The which was this Nepenthe to the brim upfild." Edgar Allan Poe sought to "Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore." The term is an alteration of the Latin nepenthes, which is itself descended from the Greek prefix n -, meaning "not," plus penthos, meaning "grief" or "sorrow." English writers have been plying the word nepenthe since the 16th century.

Origin and Etymology of nepenthe

Latin nepenthes, from Greek nēpenthes, neuter of nēpenthēs banishing pain and sorrow, from nē- not + penthos grief, sorrow; akin to Greek pathos suffering — more at no, pathos


First Known Use: 1577


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