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Ephebophilia is a term originally used in the late 19th to mid 20th century for a chronophilia in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19, and recently revived by Ray Blanchard. The term ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction. In sexual ethics, it may be defined as a sexual preference for girls generally 14–16 years old, and boys generally 14–19 years old.

In research environments, specific terms are used for chronophilias: ephebophilia to refer to the sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, hebephilia to refer to the sexual preference for earlier pubescent children, and pedophilia to refer to the sexual preference for prepubescent children. However, the term pedophilia has commonly been used to refer to any sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent, regardless of their level of physical, mental, or psychological development. Clinically, ephebophilia is not considered a mental disorder unless it affects the ephebophile's life in a destructive way. Acting upon ephebophilic preference can be illegal, for example, when the adolescent is below the legal age of consent.


The term comes from the (ephebos) variously defined as "one arrived at puberty", "a youth of eighteen who underwent his dokimasia and was registered as a citizen (Athens)", and "arriving at man's estate;" and φιλία (-philia) "love". It has been used by Dutchmarker psychologist Frits Bernard as far back as 1950, reprinted in 1960 in the gay support magazine Vriendschap under the pseudonym Victor Servatius, also crediting it to Hirschfeld though giving no exact date.

The term has been described by Frenchmanmarker Félix Buffière in 1980 and Pakistanimarker scholar Tariq Rahman, who argued that "ephebophilia" should be used in preference to "homosexuality" when describing the aesthetic and erotic interest of adult men in adolescent boys in classical Persian, Turkish or Urdu literature.


Because most late adolescents have physical characteristics near (or in other cases, identical) to that of full-grown adults, some level of sexual attraction to persons in the age group is common among adults of all sexual orientations. The term ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction.

Such a distinct preference for individuals in mid or late adolescence is not generally regarded by psychologists as a pathology when it does not interfere with other major areas of one's life. Ephebophilia is not listed by name as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), or the ICD-10, nor is it listed as a paraphilia. This is as opposed to pedophilia, which is categorized as a specific disorder in those systems with its own diagnostic criteria. However, ephebophilia can sometimes be diagnosed as a disorder if it results in dysfunction or exploitative behavior, either under the DSM specification 309.2, "Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified", or under the ICD-10 F65.8 "Other disorders of sexual preference".

Researchers state that hebephilia, erotic interest which centers on pubescents, has not come into widespread use, even among professionals who work with sex offenders, and may have been confused with the term ephebophilia, "which denotes men who prefer adolescents around 15–19 years of age". It is concluded that "few would want to label erotic interest in late — or even mid — adolescents as a psychopathology, so the term hebephilia may have been ignored along with ephebophilia".

Legal matters

If the adolescent is not over the age of consent, engaging in an ephebophilic relationship is a crime which may lead to prosecution. If the adult is in a position of authority, it may be seen as a form of exploitation or coercion, and may be prosecutable in some countries and circumstances.

See also


  1. Krafft-Ebing, R., & Moll, A. (1924). Psychopathia sexualis. Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke.
  2. Blanchard, R., Lykins, A. D., Wherrett, D., Kuban, M. E., Cantor, J. M., Blak, T., Dickey, R., & Klassen, P. E. (2008). Pedophilia, hebephilia, and the DSM–V. Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI:10.1007/s10508-008-9399-9 here
  3. [Ethics and sex Igor Primoratz, Routledge, 1999]
  4. Reply to Blanchard
  5. Rahman, T. (1988). Ephebophilia: the case for the use of a new word. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 24(2), 126-141.
  6. Human sexuality: Definitions of terms involving the sexual abuse of children, Retrieved May 252007
  7. Bernard, F. (1998). Selected publications of Dr. Frits Bernard - An international bibliography. Rotterdam: Enclave.
  8. Servatius, V. (1960, March 15). Ephebophilie en wetenschap [Ephebophilia and science]. Vriendschap, 35-35.
  9. Buffière, F. (1980). Éros adolescent : la pédérastie dans la Grèce antique, Paris, p.11.
  10. Rahman, T. (1990). Boy-Love in the Urdu Ghazal. Annual of Urdu Studies, 7, 1-20.

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