The word voluptuous is a rather suggestive yet beautiful-sounding word meaning "sexually attractive", but earlier on it had a different definition of "sexual desire". The word was borrowed in the late 1300s along with many other words from the Old French language, where it took the forms of either volumptueuse or voluptueux and had a general meaning of "desire" of any type. As we move back in time to Latin, we lose a lot of unnecessary vowels with the word voluptas, meaning "pleasure", "satisfaction", "enjoyment", and more along those lines. Voluptas was a conjugation of the adverbial form volup, "pleasurably", which was volupe in Old Latin. Most likely, volupe can be derived from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction wel, meaning "to wish" or "to will", because somebody would wish for a will pleasurable things to occur. Usage of the word voluptuous in literature over time has been decreasing dramatically since a peak in the 1780s.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.