Don’t we all have past mistakes and embarrassing moments that we wish we could forget? On today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, we will talk about a medicine that is more powerful than Harry Potter’s forgetfulness potion.

Today’s definition from TermWiki is:



quo top




A drug used by the ancients to give relief from pain and sorrow.

quo botnepenthe

Nepenthe, composed of the Greek words ne, ‘not,’ and penthos, ‘grief,’ literally means an anti-depressant or a “drug of forgetfulness.” The second word, ‘penthos,’ is the root of English words such as pharmaceutical.  Figuratively, nepenthe means “that which chases away sorrow.”

Nepenthe has appeared in several literary works. One of its earliest mentions is in Homer’s Odyssey, in which it was the name of the drug from Egypt that Paris gave to Helen after he abducted her. Some writers have suggested that Homer’s potion was opium, which is also called ‘the plant of joy’ by the Sumerians and ‘the celestial drug’ by British author Thomas De Quincey.

Nepenthes is also the botanical name for a genus of tropical carnivorous pitcher plants. They are also known as monkey cups, which refer to the fact that monkeys occasionally drink rainwater from it. The pitcher is actually a swelling of the mid-vein in the leaf and is used to drown its prey.  Most carnivorous plants eat flying, foraging, or crawling insects, but the largest species—N. rajah and N. rafflesiana—may occasionally catch small rats and lizards.

As usual, we’ve provided two examples of nepenthe used in a sentence:

  • Ed threw himself into his art and used painting as a nepenthe to numb the pain of his broken heart. (
  • He took another shot of vodka, praying it would serve as a nepenthe.

We hope you’ve learned something from today’s edition of Wacky Word Wednesday. See you next time as we turn the spotlight on another peculiar word.

If you’re interested in learning more wacky words, make sure to subscribe to our RSS feed for automatic updates from Simply CSOFT!

Leave a Comment