1. In the 1910s, applied to a heavily made-up, mysteriously exotic woman, as represented by Theda Bara in the 1914 movie A Fool There Was (the Hollywood star who slunk her treacherous way through the studies and smoking rooms of swooning men) and later by Pola Negri in the 1919 German film Passion . Rosalie Maggio in Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage (1991): ' Short of "vampire", this word posits hypnotic power for women and helplessness for men, which disserves both.' She recommends seducer instead.
2. A sexually attractive, provocative, seductive woman who uses her sex appeal to entrap and exploit men.
SYNONYMS: adventuress; enchantress; femme fatale; gold digger; seductress; temptress; vampire.
3. To seduce and exploit men through the use of sex appeal.
(1) White Vamp (Marjorie White) out to seduce and rob Willy Nilly (Bert Wheeler) and Hercules Glub (Robert Woolsey) in Diplomaniacs (1933): ' I've got what it takes to take what they've got. '
(2) Karin Borg (Greta Garbo) about being a ' smoldering siren ' to her husband Lawrence Blake (Melvyn Douglas) in Two-Faced Woman (1941): ' I will smolder, I'll siren, I'll vamp him to a crisp.'
4. To flirt openly, exotically.