general term

Lolita (term)

Lolita is a slang term for a seductive, sexually attractive, or sexually precocious young girl.

In the marketing of pornography, "lolita" is used to refer to any attractive woman who has only recently reached the age of consent, or sometimes to refer to women who appear to be younger than the age of consent.


The term originated in the 1955 novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov where it was the nickname given to the young girl, Dolores, with whom the narrator, Humbert Humbert, has sexual relations. In the book itself, "Lolita" is specifically Humbert's nickname for Dolores, and "nymphet" is the general term for the type of young girl to whom Humbert is attracted, Dolores being one of them.

In the novel, Humbert defines nymphets as being between the ages of nine and fourteen. However, commerce has preferred to use the girl's name, and to make "lolitas" attractive (in film adaptations and pornography) to a much wider audience than the small number of nymphets which Humbert believes to exist.

Influence on popular culture

The term “lolita” has come to represent an archetypal image of an under-aged sexualized nymphet. This image is used often in advertising and many other aspects of popular culture, from movies to magazines - if not as sexualized children then as adult women made to appear childlike. In her article on the use of the "lolita" concept in advertising, Debra Merskin argued that the sexualization of children in the media has the potential to contribute to the increasing problem of child sexual abuse by indirectly condoning the use of children in inappropriate sexual contexts (2004).

The phrase lolita complex or lolicon is popular in modern-day Japan to refer to a prurient interest in actual or (more commonly) manga or anime depictions of young girls. There is also a style of dress in Japan, often worn by Visual Kei musicians and their fans, called "Lolita" that is intended to evoke the look of a young girl. Lolita clothing styles range from Classic Lolita or Gothic Lolita to Sweet Lolita or "Ama Lolita."

A Woolworths retail store chain in the U.K. briefly marketed a bed designed for six-year-old girls as "The Lolita," but the product line was pulled from stores after complaints from concerned parents. It transpired that nobody involved in stocking the beds for Woolworths was aware what the word meant.

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