aphrodisiac


aphrodisiac
/af'reuh dee"ze ak', -diz"ee ak'/, adj.
1. Also, aphrodisiacal /af'reuh deuh zuy"euh keuhl, -suy"-/. arousing sexual desire.
n.
2. an aphrodisiac food, drug, potion, or other agent that arouses sexual desire.
[1710-20; < Gk aphrodisiakós relating to love or desire, equiv. to aphrodísi(os) of Aphrodite + -akos -AC]

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Any of various forms of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement.

They may be psychophysiological (arousing the senses of sight, touch, smell, or hearing) or internal (e.g., foods, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medicinal preparations). Most foods traditionally believed to be aphrodisiacs have no chemical components that would have such an effect. In some cases, their reputation may be based on a supposed resemblance to genitalia (e.g., ginseng root, rhinoceros horn). Drugs such as alcohol or marijuana may lead to sexual excitation by lessening the user's inhibitions. Few medical studies have been conducted; the only substances medically recognized as aphrodisiacs are extremely hazardous to the health.

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▪ sexual stimulant
      any of various forms of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement. Aphrodisiacs may be classified in two principal groups: (1) psychophysiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and (2) internal (stemming from food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medical preparations).

      Despite long-standing literary and popular interest in internal aphrodisiacs, almost no scientific studies of them have been made. Scientific research is limited to occasional tests of drugs or hormones for the cure of male impotence. Most writings on the subject are little more than unscientific compilations of traditional or folkloric material. Of the various foods to which aphrodisiac powers are traditionally attributed, fish, vegetables, and spices have been the most popular throughout history. In none of these foods, however, have any chemical agents been identified that could effect a direct physiological reaction upon the genitourinary tract, and it must be concluded that the reputation of various supposedly erotic foods is based not upon fact but upon folklore.

      It has been suggested that man's universal attribution of libidinous effects to certain foods originated in the ancient belief in the therapeutic efficacy of signatures: if an object resembled the genitalia, it possessed, so it was reasoned, sexual powers. Thus the legendary aphrodisiac powers of ginseng root and powdered rhinoceros horn.

      With the exception of certain drugs such as alcohol (alcohol consumption) or marijuana, which may lead to sexual excitation through disinhibition, modern medical science recognizes a very limited number of aphrodisiacs. These are, principally, cantharides and yohimbine, both of which stimulate sexual arousal by irritating the urinary tract when excreted. Cantharides, or cantharidin, consists of the broken dried remains of the blister beetle (q.v.) Lytta vesicatoria. It has been a traditional sexual stimulant fed to male livestock to facilitate breeding. In humans the substance produces skin blisters on contact, and attempts to ingest it as an aphrodisiac are considered extremely hazardous. Yohimbine is a crystalline alkaloid substance derived from the bark of the yohimbé tree (Corynanthe yohimbe) found in central Africa, where it has been used for centuries to increase sexual powers. Although it has been promoted as an aphrodisiac, most investigators feel that any clinical change in sexual powers after its use is probably due to suggestion, because stimulatory effects are elicited only with toxic doses.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • aphrodisiac — [af΄rə dē′zē ak΄, af΄rədiz′ēak΄] adj. [Gr aphrodisiakos, ult. < APHRODITE] arousing or increasing sexual desire n. any aphrodisiac drug or other agent …   English World dictionary

  • Aphrodisiac — Aph ro*dis i*ac, Aphrodisiacal Aph ro*di*si a*cal, a. [Gr. ? pertaining to sensual love, fr. ?. See {Aphrodite}.] Exciting venereal desire; stimulating the desire for sexual gratification. [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aphrodisiac — Aph ro*dis i*ac, n. That which (as a drug, or some kinds of food) stimulate sexual desire. [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • aphrodisiac — (n.) 1719, from Gk. aphrodisiakos inducing sexual desire, from aphrodisios, pertaining to APHRODITE (Cf. Aphrodite); sexual pleasure; a temple of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. As an adjective from 1830 (earlier was aphrodisical,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • aphrodisiac — *erotic, amatory, amorous Antonyms: anaphrodisiac …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • aphrodisiac — [n/adj] seductive; inducing sex amative, amatory, amorous, erotic, love drug, popper*, Spanish fly*, turn on*, wampole*; concepts 372,537 …   New thesaurus

  • aphrodisiac — ► NOUN ▪ a food, drink, or drug that arouses sexual desire. ORIGIN Greek aphrodisiakos, from Aphrodite, the goddess of love …   English terms dictionary

  • Aphrodisiac — An aphrodisiac is an agent which is used in the belief that it increases sexual desire. [ [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/aphrodisiac Definition at thefreedictionary.com] ] The name comes from Aphrodite , the Greek goddess of… …   Wikipedia

  • aphrodisiac — [[t]æ̱frədɪ̱ziæk[/t]] aphrodisiacs N COUNT An aphrodisiac is a food, drink, or drug which is said to make people want to have sex. Asparagus is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. ADJ GRADED Aphrodisiac is also an adjective. ...plants with narcotic or… …   English dictionary

  • aphrodisiac — UK [ˌæfrəˈdɪzɪæk] / US [ˌæfrəˈdɪzɪˌæk] noun [countable] Word forms aphrodisiac : singular aphrodisiac plural aphrodisiacs a food, drink, or drug that makes people want to have sex Derived word: aphrodisiac UK / US adjective …   English dictionary


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