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"Nymphet" redirects here. For the manga, see Nymphet (manga).

Nubile refers to a young woman who is ready or suitable for marriage by virtue of her age, puberty, or maturity.[1] Since at least 1973, it has also been used to refer to a sexually attractive young woman.[2][3]


The English word traces its roots to 1642 in reference to being "marriageable" (as said of a woman) from the French nubile. Its historical roots, though, can be traced still further back to the Latin nubilis, also meaning "marriageable," which is from the stem of nubere which means "take as husband."[3]

In 1973 it was first used in the sense of "sexually attractive."[3] The word can refer to a nymphet (see below) or lolita in the context of a young sexually attractive, seductive or precocious woman.

Related terms[edit]



A nymphet (formed by the root word nymph and the suffix -ette; meaning "small") refers to a girl who just enters adolescence without being considered a teenager. It also refers to a sexually attractive "tween" girl, or young woman, who is between the ages of 7 to 15 years old.[4] The first recorded use of the term, defined by The Century Dictionary as "a little nymph,"[5] was by Michael Drayton in Poly-Olbion I. xi. Argt. 171 (1612): "Of the nymphets sporting there In Wyrrall, and in Delamere." A nympholepte (formed by the root word nymph and the suffix -lepte; apocope of leptin "taking") refers a person sexually attracted by "nymphets girls" at the end of childhood.

In Lolita, "nymphet" was used to describe the 9- to 14-year-old girls to whom the protagonist is attracted,[6] the archetypal nymphet being the character of Dolores Haze. Nabokov, in the voice of his narrator Humbert, first describes these nymphets in the following passage:

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."

It will be marked that I substitute time terms for spatial ones. In fact, I would have the reader see 'nine' and 'fourteen' as the boundaries—the mirrory beaches and rosy rocks—of an enchanted island haunted by those nymphets of mine and surrounded by a vast, misty sea.[6]

For Humbert, a self-confessed nympholepte, a nymphet is in the earliest stages of puberty: "The bud-stage of breast development appears early (10.7 years)."[6] When he meets a streetwalker who claims to be 18, he considers her no longer a nymphet, although her body is still in some ways childlike.[6]


For other uses, see Lolita (disambiguation).

The term lolita is taken from the nickname of the title character in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita. Lolita's actual name is Dolores Haze; the narrator, Humbert Humbert, develops a sexual obsession with her.[7] Lola (diminutive: Lolita) is a common hypocorism for Dolores in some Spanish-speaking countries,[8] and in both Japanese and English "lolita" (and its shortened form "loli") have come to refer to a sexually attractive, seductive or precocious young girl.[9] In these languages, an individual who is attracted to such girls (such as Humbert) are stated as having a "lolita complex."



The term faunlet, coined by Nabokov and also used by Humbert, is used to describe the young male counterpart of a nymphet, in the same way that the mythological fauns were the counterpart of the nymphs. The term appears in the novel twice:

When I was a child and she was a child, my little Annabel was no nymphet to me; I was her equal, a faunlet in my own right, on that same enchanted island of time.[6]

…I met the unblinking dark eyes of two strange and beautiful children, faunlet and nymphet, whom their identical flat dark hair and bloodless cheeks proclaimed siblings if not twins.[6]


The term shōtarō is taken from the young male character Shōtarō (from Tetsujin 28-go),[10] whose bishōnen cuteness embodied and formed the term "Shōtarō complex", putting a name to sexual attraction to underage boys.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ the free dictionary
  2. ^ merriam-webster dictionary
  3. ^ a b c Online Etymology Dictionary - nubile
  4. ^ "Tween.", American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Web. 4 May 2010.
  5. ^ Search The Century Dictionary at
  6. ^ a b c d e f Nabokov, Vladimir (1991). Alfred Appel, ed. The Annotated Lolita. Random House. ISBN 0-679-72729-9. 
  7. ^ Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. New York: Vintage International, 1955. ISBN 0-679-72316-1.
  8. ^ Dolores Reader Contributions section, Nicknames for Dolores. Baby Name Wizard.
  9. ^ lolita in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  10. ^ Saitō Tamaki (2007) "Otaku Sexuality" in Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi ed., page 236 Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams University of Minnesota Press ISBN 978-0-8166-4974-7

External links[edit]