AskDefine | Define succubus

Dictionary Definition

succubus n : a female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men [syn: succuba] [also: succubi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



Alteration in Middle English of Late Latin succuba (strumpet, esp. a mythological fiend in female form who has intercourse with men in their sleep) < succubare (to lie under) < sub- (under) + cubare (to lie down) < Proto-Indo-European base *keu(b)- (to bend, to turn).


succubus (plural: succubi)
  1. A female demon which comes to men, especially monks, in their dreams to seduce them and have sexual intercourse, drawing energy from the men to sustain themselves, often until the point of exhaustion or death.
  2. A strumpet, whore or prostitute.



  • 1977 “When the Sabbath is caught by the first ray of the rising sun, all the witches and the vampires, incubi and succubi, take flight, some transforming themselves into noctules, some into other bats, some into still other species of Chiroptera. — Italo Calvino, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Part 2, Chapter 5, 1969. Translated from Italian by William Weaver.
  • S. J. PERELMAN "This is a hyperthyroid dame who fastens on ya like a succubus."

See also

Extensive Definition

In Western medieval legend, a succubus (plural succubi) or succuba (plural succubae) is a demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman to seduce men, especially monks in dreams to have sexual intercourse. They draw energy from the men to sustain themselves, often until the point of exhaustion or death of the victim. One such story relates to a man in the town of Coblenz, who has been bewitched by a succubus, with whom he is forced to repeatedly fornicate, whilst in the presence of his wife. The story goes on to say that "after an incredible number of such bouts, the poor man at last sinks to the floor utterly exhausted." From mythology and fantasy, Lilith and the Lilin (Jewish) and Lilitu (Sumerian) are in redactive Christian fables (folktales not part of official Christian theology), considered succubi.
According to the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Witches' Hammer", published against the recommendation of the Catholic Church in 1487 and officially banned in 1490, succubi would collect semen from the men they slept with, which incubi would then use to impregnate women thus explaining how demons could apparently sire children in spite of the traditional belief that demons were incapable of reproduction through generative or gestative means. Children so begotten were supposed to be those that were born deformed, or more susceptible to supernatural influences.
From the 16th century, the carving of a succubus on the outside of an inn indicated that the establishment also operated as a brothel.


The word "succubus" comes from an alteration of the Late Latin succuba meaning "strumpet". The word itself is derived from the Latin prefix "sub-" which means "below, underneath", and the verb "cubo" which means "I lie". So a succubus is someone who lies under another person, whereas an incubus (Latin "in-" in this case stands for "on top") is someone who lies on top of another person.
Mare was also a term used to describe the sighing, suffocative panting, or an intercepted utterance, with a sense of pressure across the chest, which occurs during sleep. These symptoms were also thought to be an incubus (or succubus), an evil preternatural being, causing nightmares and/or nocturnal emissions. This phenomenon is now thought to be an experience of sleep paralysis.


The appearance of succubi varies, but in general they are depicted as alluring women with great beauty, often with demonic batlike wings, and large breasts; they also have other demonic features, such as horns and cloven feet. Occasionally they appear as an attractive woman in dreams that the victim cannot seem to get off his mind. They lure males and in some cases, the male has seemed to fall "in love" with her. Even out of the dream she will not leave his mind. She will remain there slowly draining energy from him until death by exhaustion. Other sources say the demon will steal the male's soul through the act of intercourse.

See also


succubus in Bulgarian: Сукуб
succubus in Czech: Succubus
succubus in Welsh: Swcwbws
succubus in Danish: Succubus
succubus in German: Succubus
succubus in Spanish: Súcubo
succubus in French: Succube
succubus in Indonesian: Succubus
succubus in Icelandic: Succubus
succubus in Italian: Succubo
succubus in Hebrew: סקובוס
succubus in Dutch: Succubus
succubus in Japanese: サキュバス
succubus in Polish: Sukub
succubus in Portuguese: Súcubo
succubus in Romanian: Succubus
succubus in Russian: Суккуб
succubus in Swedish: Succuba
succubus in Thai: ปีศาจแฝงฝัน

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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