NABOKV-L post 0005620, Wed, 13 Dec 2000 18:05:56 -0800

Fw: Nymphet coinage
----- Original Message -----
From: "Chimene, Jeff" <>
(47 lines) ------------------
Here are the two references I'll use as "... in the sense of a 'Lolita'."
"Now I wish to introduce the following idea. Between the
age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who,
to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older
than they, reveal their true nature which is not human
but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen
creatures I propose to designate as 'nymphets'."
"... shorts, halter, with little to halt, bright hair
-- a nymphet, by Pan!"

According to the OED, nymphet is "A young or little nymph." I didn't copy
the 1612 usage. If anyone's *really* interested, I'll key it in.

Among the definitions of nymph: "A young and beautiful woman; hence maiden,
damsel." The OED categorizes this as a "poetical" definition, surely
Humbert's choice. His age range is "in the sense", his additional
connotation is not. Note also that H.'s is a reflexive definition, and he
overtly adds a sensual connotation by linking nymphet" and "Pan". The OED
addresses this sensual aspect in a secondary definition, "in euphemistic or
jocular use" citing "1859 Slang Dictionary 69, Nymph of the pave, a girl of
the town."

It might also be interesting to track the use of the word. I suspect the
frequency decreases as the story progresses.

-----Original Message-----
> From: D. Barton Johnson []
> Sent: Friday, December 08, 2000 18:12
> Subject: Nymphet coinage
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Chimene, Jeff" <>
> > re: "Even the word nymphet, which Nabokov himself coined,..."
> >
> > My edition of the OED dates the word to 1612.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Jeff Chimene
> >
> EDITOR's NOTE. Interestering, but was it in the sense of a "Lolita"?