A nymphet is a sexually precocious or attractive girl. Notably used by French author Pierre de Ronsard, the term was popularised by Vladimir Nabokov (a fluent French speaker himself) in the novel Lolita. In Lolita, the main character uses it to describe the girls aged 9 to 14 to whom he was attracted. In today's popular press the term is sometimes applied to females in their late teens or early twenties.
The archetypal nymphet is the character Lolita of Vladimir Nabokov's novel. Nabokov, in the voice of his narrator Humbert, first describes these nymphets in the following passage:
For Humbert, a nymphet is in the earliest stages of puberty - "The bud-stage of breast development appears early (10.7 years)" - and when he meets a streetwalker of eighteen, he considers her no longer a nymphet although her body is still in some ways childlike.
The term faunlet, also coined by Nabokov and used by the character of Humbert 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:
Nabokov borrowed the term nympholept, a rare, archaic term meaning a person seized by emotional frenzy, as if enchanted by nymphs. The word is found with this meaning in the poetry of Lord Byron: "The nympholepsy of some fond despair."
Nabokov used the word to describe one who could "discern" nymphets from other girls. In Humbert's own words:
This article is based on "Nymphet" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nymphet&action=history