One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Excessive sensitivity or rapid reaction to stimulation of a part of the body, especially the sexual organs.
- ‘The intense excitement of the events had no doubt left my perceptive powers in a state of erethism.’
- ‘The state we were in was a kind of mental eroticism, an erethism of the mind, akin to that inwardly directed state of arousal achieved by adepts of Tantric yoga.’
- ‘Erethism traditionally is seen in the chronic phase of the toxicity.’
2A state of abnormal mental excitement or irritation.
- ‘What are we to understand by this erethism of the brain?’
- ‘But these are not worthy concerns, they are mere symptoms of a moral erethism (mental over-excitement).’
Early 19th century: from French éréthisme, from Greek erethismos, from erethizein ‘irritate’.
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