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energumen, n.


α. 16 energumenus, 15–16 18 energumeni (plural).

β. 16 18 energumene, 16– energumen.

γ. 18–19 energumenon, 19– energumenos.

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Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Partly a borrowing from Greek. Etymons: Latin energumenus, Greek ἐνεργούμενος.
Etymology: < post-classical Latin energumenus person possessed by the devil (4th cent.) and its etymon Byzantine Greek ἐνεργούμενος person possessed by the devil, use as noun of ancient Greek ἐνεργούμενος  , passive participle of ἐνεργεῖν   to operate, (passive) to be the object of action, in Hellenistic Greek also (active) to be efficacious, to be effective, to effect, execute < ἐν-  en- prefix2   + ἔργον   work (see erg n.1).
In form energumene   perhaps after French energumène person possessed by the devil (1579 in Middle French).
In form energumeni   after the Latin plural form.
In form energumenon   apparently with remodelling of the ending after Greek neuter nouns in -ον.

 1. A person thought to be possessed by a devil or demon. Now chiefly in historical contexts.

1564   T. Harding Answere to Iuelles Chalenge f. 163v   Energumeni..were such, as notwithstanding they had ben christened, yet for the inconstancie of their mynde, were vexed with vncleane sprites.
1625   R. Broughton 2nd Pt. Protestants Plea x. 171   The catechumens, energumens, and publick penitents, were not permitted to bee present.
1658   tr. S. de Cyrano de Bergerac Satyrical Characters xiii. 59   If then this Energumenus, hath a thousand lengths and breadthes that are so many Crosses about her.
1702   C. Mather Magnalia Christi iii. ii. xxvi. 151/2   Seeing the Man look Wild and Strange, and of an Energumen-Countenance.
1758   Rev. Important Controv. conc. Miracles xiii. 347   They brought to him all their sick, lame, blind, paralytic, energumens, in public.
1820   Scott Abbot III. v*. 181   If there was ever an Energumene, or possessed Demoniac..there is a devil speaking with that woman's tongue!
1863   ‘G. Eliot’ Romola I. v. 85   Of an energumen whose dwelling is among tombs.
1880   A. E. Kroeger tr. Kant in Jrnl. Speculative Philos. 14 161   Probably the height of absurdity..was reached when a lunatic.., or perhaps a mere epileptic, was taken for an energumenon (possessed) [Ger. für einen Energumenen (Besessenen) galt].
1911   Month May 454   If the pursuivants had come while the energumen was in a fit of uncontrollable crying, the priest's life would certainly have been forfeit.
2011   Oxf. Art Jrnl. 34 375   Attention has largely focused on the two demoniacs, or energumens, whom Ignatius is dispossessing.

1564—2011(Hide quotations)


 2. Originally: an adherent of a Christian sect regarded as heretical, esp. one who claims prophetic inspiration or divine ecstasy (now rare). Now more generally: an enthusiast, exponent, or devotee of someone or something regarded as wicked or dangerous.

1660   J. Gauden Serm. Funeral Brounrig 57   The Montanists, Maniches, Circumcellians, and others of the Energumeni of old and of late.., who made first popular ostentations of special inspirations and correptions or raptures of the Spirit of God.
1702   C. Mather Magnalia Christi i. iii. 14/1   Quakers and Seekers, and other such Energumens.
1818   T. Jefferson Writings (1984) 672   When Genl. Washington was withdrawn, the energumeni of royalism..mounted on the Car of State..drove headlong and wild.
1860   T. P. Thompson Audi Alteram Partem (1861) III. civ. 12   Suppose some ‘energumene’ were to make the declaration, etc.
1885   Macmillan's Mag. Feb. 255/2   The seeming peril to which priceless moral elements of human character were exposed by the energumens of progress.
1938   E. Paul & C. Paul tr. M. Hirschfeld Racism xx. 260   The apostles and energumens of racism can in all good faith give free rein to impulses of which they would be ashamed did they realise their true nature.
2009   National Rev. (Nexis) 20 May   I oppose the sort of witch hunt Pelosi and her energumens clearly crave.

1660—2009(Hide quotations)




  ˌenerguˈmenical adj.  [compare post-classical Latin energumenicus (1571 in a work title, or earlier)] rare that is or resembles an energumen; possessed by a devil or demon; (also) characteristic of an energumen.

1684   I. Mather Ess. for Recording Illustrious Providences vi. 171   Certain Arguments of an Energumenical person.
a1716   R. Traill Select Pract. Writings (1845) 296   I shall only give the meaning of this word.., omitting what the deluded Quakers may allege hence for their energumenical shakings.
1989   K. H. Winn Exiles in Land of Liberty vi. 124   Smith feared the consequences of such acts more than did his energumenical followers.

1684—1989(Hide quotations)


ˌenerˈgumenist   n. Obsolete a person thought to be possessed by a devil or demon; = sense 1.

1646   J. Gaule Select Cases Conscience 37   The meerly Passive be simply dæmoniacks, but not Energumenists. That is mainly suffering, rather then Acting by the Divell.
1662   R. le Grosse Sionis Reductio 6   Missa est..was wont to be proclaimed by the Deacon to the Catechumenists, Energumenists, and Penitentiaries, who were not admitted to be present.

1646—1662(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, June 2018).

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