By Deane Barker

This is a mythical demon that seduces men in their sleep. Legend goes that continued sex with a succubus drains men of their health.

The root of the word is quite explicit: it’s Medieval Latin for “to lie under.” This gives it the same general root of “succumb,” which literally means “yield.”

The word is now often used to describe something tempting that is ultimately negative. Many times, it’s in the context of a man being attracted to a woman but blaming her for relationship problems and emotional decline.

The Urban Dictionary doesn’t disappoint here – it has many definitions of the word that appear to be describing specific women with whom the various authors had history.

The succubus is a soul eating beast that presently resides on coastal British Columbia […] it commonly takes on the image of a girl with hair as fiery as the sun, and thighs the size of tractor trailers.

…and so on.

Why I Looked It Up

In a book about the history of black athletes, I found this:

Black intellectuals from W.E.B. DuBois to Harry Edwards have warned that the black community’s historical romance with athleticism is like an affair with a succubus.

The point being made was that young black men tend to be athletic, and they often succumb to the temptation to excel on the field and are consequently not taken seriously in more academic or economic pursuits.

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