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From Latin Paphius (from Ancient Greek Πάφος (Páphos, Paphos)) + English -an.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpeɪfɪən/
    • (file)


Paphian (not comparable)

  1. (literary) Pertaining to love or sexual desire, especially when illicit. [from 16th c.]
    • 1613, John Marston, William Barksted, The Insatiate Countess, III.4:
      Cease admiration, sit to Cupid's feast, / The preparation to Paphian dalliance.
    • 1873, Anonymous (William Potter), William Lazenby (publisher), The Romance of Lust; or, Early Experiences, Volume I,
      I lay, as it were, in the Paphian bower of bliss, in a state of exquisite sensations quite impossible to describe.
    • 1906, O. Henry, Man About Town
      People passed, but they held me not. Paphian eyes rayed upon me, and left me unscathed.
  2. Of or relating to Paphos, the mythical birthplace of the goddess of love on the island of Cyprus. [from 16th c.]
    • 1720, Homer, Alexander Pope (translator), The Iliad, Book III,
      Then thus incensed, the Paphian queen replies: / "Obey the power from whom thy glories rise: / Should Venus leave thee, every charm must fly, / Fade from thy cheek, and languish in thy eye. / Cease to provoke me, lest I make thee more / The world’s aversion, than their love before; / Now the bright prize for which mankind engage, / Than, the sad victim, of the public rage."
    • 1791, Homer, William Cowper (translator), The Odyssey, Book VIII,
      So saying, the might of Vulcan loos’d the snare, / And they, detain’d by those coercive bands / No longer, from the couch upstarting, flew, / Mars into Thrace, and to her Paphian home / The Queen of smiles, where deep in myrtle groves / Her incense-breathing altar stands embow’r’d.



Paphian (plural Paphians)

  1. (literary) A prostitute.
    • 1824, Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto the Eleventh, XXX,
      They reach'd the hotel: forth stream'd from the front door / A tide of well-clad waiters, and around / The mob stood, and as usual several score / Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound / In decent London when the daylight's o'er; / Commodious but immoral, they are found / Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage.
  2. A resident of Paphos.
    • 1854, Athenaeus of Naucratis, Charles Duke Yonge (translator), The Deipnosophists; or, Banquet of the Learned, Volume II, page 777,
      Then there is the mastus. Apollodorus the Cyrenæan, as Pamphilus says, states that this is a name given to drinking-cups by the Paphians.