- sensual and arousing
- something, usually a food or drug, that stimulates sexual yearning or excitement
An aphrodisiac is something that awakens sexual longings. Whether it be a food, drink, drug, or a "potion," when consumed, it triggers sensual emotions, making its consumer crave physical connections. Most medications that are used to treat low sex drive are considered aphrodisiacs, but some foods and drinks have certain ingredients that cause arousal as well.
According to Cosmopolitan, a purveyor on the topic, there are various types of food that increase stimulation. For example, the capsaicin in hot chilies is postulated to cause consumers to feel more turned on; similarly, the zinc in oysters produces more testosterone, theoretically leading to a higher sex drive. These are just two of many natural aphrodisiacs that often appear in pop culture. Even chocolate, with its phenyl ethylamine, is thought to excite its consumers. People turn to aphrodisiacs for increased passion and desire, especially at an older age when a high sex drive becomes tougher to maintain.
Something that is aphrodisiac, also referred to as aphrodisiacal, is thrilling and stimulating, such as a glass of red wine during a candlelit dinner for two. This might indicate that, besides the more obvious physical materials or products, some actions can also serve as aphrodisiacs. Behaviors like enjoying such a candlelit dinner, suggestive or ceremonial dancing, and even something as simple as flirting might fit under this category if they inspire intimacy among (hopefully both of) the participants. Even some things that might not normally cause sexual arousal, such as money or fashion, can function as aphrodisiacs if they are indirectly linked with feelings of desire or lust. When you're faced with something that suddenly fills you with the urge to procreate, chances are you've been attacked by an aphrodisiac!
Example: She consumed an aphrodisiac to get herself in a sensual mood.
Example: The dim lighting and empty house was aphrodisiac for the couple.
Some would argue that the image of "foam" is kind of…unattractive (does anyone else think of Rabies when they hear that word?). Yet, ironically, foam plays a key role in the origin story of aphrodisiac. We start with the religion of the ancient Greeks, which included among its pantheon of deities Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sexual desire. According to legend, Aphrodite was formed from the foam of ocean waters, and thus her name includes the prefix aphros, the Greek term for foam. As the Greek language developed, the name "Aphrodite" became synonymous with sexual attraction, giving rise to the word aphrodisios, which either meant (literally) "related to Aphrodite" or (figuratively) "sexual in nature." This would evolve into the Greek aphrodisiakos, which shares the meaning of the modern English adjective definition of aphrodisiac. Aphrodisiacal would be the first version of this idea to enter the English lexicon, with the noun form of aphrodisiac arising sometime in the first quarter of the 1700s. The use of aphrodisiac as an adjective was first recorded in the 1830s.
Aphrodisiacal: This adjective, the use of which preceded aphrodisiac, describes something that stimulates arousal.
Example: Her aphrodisiacal Victoria's Secret nightgown aroused her boyfriend.
Aphrodisia: This noun means sexual longing.
Example: The man had aphrodisia for his mistress.
From The Daily Beast's "Review of the Novel Indiscretion by Charles Dubow":
Expensive real estate is an aphrodisiac for girls like Claire, Walter notes. And as this novel tells us, so is an accomplished older man in a seemingly idyllic marriage.
The writers use aphrodisiac to indicate what turns on girls like the character Claire.
From Pamela Morsi's The Lovesick Cure:
I'll tell you a secret about the men in this world. They like young pretty girls, but when pretty teams up with smart and resourceful, it's more than an elixir, it's nearly a dad-blamed aphrodisiac.
In this passage, Morsi gives men a lot of credit, explaining that, in general, they find a combination of physical attractiveness and competency to be the ultimate turn-on, or aphrodisiac.
From Allyson Roy's Aphrodisiac:
Tim leaned forward like a gossip with material suitable for Page Six. His voice dropped to a confidential whisper. "Gwen's formula happens to be an extremely powerful and unique aphrodisiac. But, get this. The juice doesn't work when it's on a man's body, only when it's on the skin of a woman." Benita and I looked at each other and let out a simultaneous "What?" After a hesitant giggle, I asked if he was joking. "No," Tim said. "This perfume not only makes a man go bonkers over the woman wearing the stuff..."
Here, Roy uses aphrodisiac to explain a sensual perfume. The scent attracts men to the women who wear it, but not vice versa. It is such a strong appeal that it makes men crazy.
- An aphrodisiac will give you a kick!
- Aphrodisiacs activate your sex drive
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of aphrodisiac. Did you use aphrodisiac in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.