Nubile refers to a young woman who is ready or suitable for marriage by virtue of her age or maturity. Since at least 1973, it has also been used to refer to a sexually attractive young woman.
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".
A nymphet is a sexually attractive "tween" girl, or young woman, who is between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. The first recorded use of the term, defined by The Century Dictionary as "a little nymph", was by Michael Drayton in Poly-Olbion I. xi. Argt. 171 (1612): "Of the nymphets sporting there In Wyrrall, and in Delamere."
In Lolita, "nymphet" was used to describe the 9- to 14-year-old girls to whom the protagonist is attracted, 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.
For Humbert, a nymphet is in the earliest stages of puberty: "The bud-stage of breast development appears early (10.7 years)." 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.
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.
...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.
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. Lola (diminutive: Lolita) is a common hypocorism for Dolores in some Spanish-speaking countries, 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. In these languages, an individual who is attracted to such girls (such as Humbert) are stated as having a "lolita complex".
- the free dictionary
- merriam-webster dictionary
- Online Etymology Dictionary - nubile
- "Tween." Dictionary.com, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Web. 4 May 2010.
- Search The Century Dictionary at http://www.global-language.com/CENTURY/
- Nabokov, Vladimir (1991). Alfred Appel, ed. The Annotated Lolita. Random House. ISBN 0-679-72729-9.
- Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. New York: Vintage International, 1955. ISBN 0-679-72316-1.
- Dolores Reader Contributions section, Nicknames for Dolores. Baby Name Wizard.
- lolita in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
|Look up nubile in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up nymphet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up Lolita or lolita in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Constructions of Childhood in Art and Media: Sexualized Innocence, Alexandra Wood.
- "Little Deadly Demons: Nymphets, sexuality and a North American girl-child", Dawson, Kellie, American Sexuality Magazine.