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Incubus vs. Succubus: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
An incubus is a male demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women, while a succubus is a female demon believed to have sexual relations with sleeping men.
Incubus vs. Succubus

Key Differences

Incubus is a term originating from medieval folklore, referring to a male demon that is said to lie upon sleeping women, often engaging in sexual activity. This demon is often portrayed as seductive and manipulative, using its powers to exploit its victims. Succubus, conversely, refers to a female demon that seduces men in their sleep. The succubus is similarly known for using seduction and manipulation, preying on men during their sleep.
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Nov 29, 2023
In many legends, the incubus is described as a dark, shadowy figure, sometimes with the ability to shapeshift or become invisible, enhancing its deceitful nature. The succubus is often depicted as highly alluring and irresistible to men, using her appearance to lure her victims into a vulnerable state.
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One interesting aspect of the folklore surrounding these demons is the belief that an incubus and succubus could transform into one another. An incubus could become a succubus to collect semen from men, then transform back to an incubus to impregnate women, blurring the lines between these entities.
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In terms of their impact in folklore and culture, the incubus has often been associated with fears and anxieties about male sexuality and power, while the succubus represents anxieties around female seduction and the perceived dangers of female sexuality. Both have been used historically to explain various phenomena, from nocturnal emissions to sleep paralysis.
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In modern times, both the incubus and succubus have transcended their original folklore roots, appearing in various forms in popular culture. They are often depicted in movies, literature, and art, not just as demonic entities but also as metaphors for different aspects of human psychology and sexuality.
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Comparison Chart

Gender

Male demon
Female demon
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Activity

Engages in sexual acts with sleeping women
Engages in sexual acts with sleeping men
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Folklore Origin

Medieval legends
Medieval legends
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Typical Depiction

Dark, shadowy, sometimes able to shapeshift
Alluring and seductive
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Cultural Symbolism

Represents male sexuality and power
Symbolizes female seduction and danger
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Incubus and Succubus Definitions

Incubus

A male demon believed to lie on sleeping women.
The ancient tale described an incubus haunting the village maidens at night.
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Succubus

An embodiment of female seduction and danger in folklore.
The succubus was portrayed as an irresistible temptress.
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Incubus

A symbol of malevolent male sexuality in myths.
The incubus was often blamed for unexplained pregnancies in ancient times.
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Succubus

A metaphor for dangerous or fatal attraction.
In modern stories, a succubus often represents fatal allure.
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Incubus

A cause of distress or anxiety.
The unresolved mystery acted like an incubus on his mind.
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Succubus

A female demon believed to engage in sexual activity with sleeping men.
Legends say the succubus would visit men in their dreams.
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Incubus

A nightmare or oppressive burden.
His guilt was an incubus that tormented him relentlessly.
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Succubus

A legendary figure associated with night terrors.
He was haunted by a dream of a succubus.
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Incubus

An evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.
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Succubus

A symbol of seductive female power in myths.
The succubus in the tale used her beauty to manipulate.
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Incubus

A nightmare.
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Succubus

A female demon supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with a man while he sleeps.
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Incubus

An oppressive or nightmarish burden.
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Succubus

An evil spirit; a demon.
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Incubus

(medieval folklore) An evil spirit supposed to oppress people while asleep, especially to have sex with women as they sleep.
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Succubus

(medieval folklore) A female demon which comes to men, especially monks, in their dreams to seduce them and have sexual intercourse, drawing energy from the men to sustain themselves, often until the point of exhaustion or death.
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Incubus

A feeling of oppression during sleep, sleep paralysis; night terrors, a nightmare.
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Succubus

A strumpet, whore or prostitute.
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Incubus

(by extension) Any oppressive thing or person; a burden.
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Succubus

A demon or fiend; especially, a lascivious spirit supposed to have sexual intercourse with the men by night; a succuba. Cf. Incubus.
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Incubus

(entomology) One of various of parasitic insects, especially subfamily Aphidiinae.
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Succubus

The nightmare. See Nightmare, 2.
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Incubus

A demon; a fiend; a lascivious spirit, supposed to have sexual intercourse with women by night.
The devils who appeared in the female form were generally called succubi; those who appeared like men incubi, though this distinction was not always preserved.
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Oct 19, 2023

Succubus

A female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men
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Incubus

The nightmare. See Nightmare.
Such as are troubled with incubus, or witch-ridden, as we call it.
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Incubus

Any oppressive encumbrance or burden; anything that prevents the free use of the faculties.
Debt and usury is the incubus which weighs most heavily on the agricultural resources of Turkey.
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Oct 19, 2023

Incubus

A male demon believed to lie on sleeping persons and to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women
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Incubus

A situation resembling a terrifying dream
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Incubus

Someone who depresses or worries others
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Incubus

A dark figure in folklore known for sexual exploitation.
The incubus in the story used its charm to deceive.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is an incubus?

A male demon from folklore that preys on women.
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What is a succubus?

A female demon from folklore that seduces men.
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Can an incubus shape-shift?

In some stories, incubi have the ability to change form.
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Are there historical accounts of incubi?

There are many historical tales and alleged encounters.
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Have succubi been portrayed in modern media?

Yes, in various books, films, and shows.
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Can an incubus father children?

In folklore, it was sometimes believed they could.
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Are incubi and succubi real?

They are mythological beings with no basis in scientific fact.
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Where does the succubus myth come from?

Also from medieval European folklore, similar to the incubus.
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What's the origin of the incubus legend?

It originates from medieval European folklore.
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Are succubi mentioned in religious texts?

They appear in various historical and mythological texts.
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Do incubi have supernatural powers?

In legends, they often possess various supernatural abilities.
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Is the succubus always depicted as evil?

Traditionally, yes, though modern interpretations can vary.
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Is the incubus associated with specific cultures?

The myth is found in many cultures with variations.
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How do people protect themselves from an incubus?

Historically, through religious or superstitious means.
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Do succubi always appear as young women?

Typically, but depictions vary, including shape-shifting.
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Are succubi always harmful?

In traditional lore, yes, but interpretations can vary.
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Was the incubus myth used to explain certain phenomena?

Yes, like nocturnal emissions and sleep paralysis.
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Is the succubus concept used in psychology?

Sometimes metaphorically, to describe certain behaviors or phenomena.
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Have incubi been depicted in art?

Yes, in various forms across different periods.
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Can a succubus fall in love with a human?

While not typical in traditional folklore, modern stories sometimes explore this.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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