This word — meaning roughly deep-bosomed — may be described as a companion to callipygian, which I investigated some time ago, though it is an even more rare and learned term.
One of the few writers to have used it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote in his Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table in 1858 that “The bathycolpian Heré ... sent down Iris”.
It derives from Greek bathus, deep, and kolpos, often translated as cleft or gulf (actually, by an indirect route through Italian, and following some mangling, it is the source of English gulf). It is sometimes written bathukolpian in an attempt to more closely represent the Greek spelling.
The Greek root kolpos had various senses, not only referring to the cleft between the breasts (and so the breasts themselves, as here), but also the cleft of the vagina and so by association the womb (hence the English medical prefix colpo–, as in words like colposcope for a surgical instrument used to examine the vagina and the cervix of the womb).
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Bob’s-a-dying; Methinks; Bill of goods; Binge-watching; Codswallop; That’s all she wrote; Great Scott; Gone for a Burton; Pull the plug; Bob’s your uncle; Gibberish; You snowing me?; Chi-ike; Salop; Hairy eyeballs; Broom-squire; Latrinalia; Charon; True blue; Nakation; Hands off?; Who coined forecast?; Vigintillion; Hingle; Bookaneer; Pig sick; Adimpleate; Deodand; Ilk; Fowler’s Modern English Usage; Skint; Vellichor; Galoot; Crizzling; Caparisoned.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!