Is the Word 'Pederasty' Outdated?

Maybe some of you could help me, I am looking for a word. It refers to men who molest little girls, but also could just refer to men who have sex with women.

Ridiculous, no? Yet that basically what pederast means. It is a man who has sex with little boys, but could also refer to a man who has sex with men.

I know the term is still in use too. I read Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s Sex For Dummies a few years back. And she uses the term. Dr. Ruth, the term is pedophile. That word alone should suffice for most of the times the word pederast/y is used, even today. If you want to be more specific, say “homosexual pedophile”. But I think pedophile is enough.

What do the rest of you think:)?

“Pederast” pretty much exclusively refers to a man who has sex with boys/adolescents and not a man who has sex with grown men. And I checked “Sex for Dummies”, and Dr. Ruth specifically distinguishes pederasty and homosexuality. She had just finished talking about rape, incest and sexual abuse, and she mentioned NAMBLA. She goes on to say:

So, she’s making it explicit that most gay men aren’t attracted to boys, just as most straight men aren’t attracted to girls, and she’s condemning the assumption that they are. I don’t see anything really out of line there.

“Pederast” has always been defined as sex between a man and a boy that I have seen.

Are we arguing definitions here?

This is all I could find for now:

Emphasis mine, but note the word “especially”. Anyways, I know the term can be used that way. If I find more, I will post it.

So are you saying that, technically, Bob and Jim who are both 35 years old and consenting to sexual relations with each other are pederasts?

No, I certainly wouldn’t say it. But going by the literal definition, basically yes. If it’s any help, I read recently online that the term was used esp. in the 19th Century that way (here is an interesting Wiki article that talks about that a little). You realize the implication is that it is all the same–so basically, yes, it is a homophobic usage. But I have sometimes encountered it used that way even today. FWIW, I once read an Esperanto dictionary by a British guy where he uses the Esperanto term for pederasty that way.

Anyways, as I said, if I find more, I will certainly post it. Remember, this use is rather rare.

My question is, is there really a reason to single out male-on-male pedophiles? And, if so, why is there no word for male-on-female, female-on-male, or female-on-female?

At a guess: because the culture which gave us the word pederast didn’t encourage or value those.

Note that the words pederast and pedophiles are not synonymous: a pederast engages in sex with male adolescents. A pedophile engages in sex with strictly prepubescent children. Whether that makes a difference or not is in the eye of the beholder - obviously some felt a distinction was called for.

Another distinction is that a pederast actually does it; a paedophile can be someone who thinks about it but restrains herself.

Sometimes words are just like that. Is there a word for male lolita or nymphet? I blame Nabokov.

FWIW, I’ve seen the word used in older texts to mean simply “homosexual” without either of the people involved being minors, or even simply to mean one who engages in anal sex, without even reference to the genders of the people involved.

I won’t link, since I don’t want to cause anyone any awkward talks with their boss at work, but using google books to search for the word pederast in texts earlier then 1900 gives plenty of examples. Indeed, just skimming through, the more modern use of the word to mean a pedophile doesn’t seem to have been very common at all a century ago.

This is wrong. A pedophile is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children. An ephebophile is sexually attracted to those that are barely past puberty. Both words have to do with sexual attraction, not actual sex.


The term I would recommend is “heterosexual man”. Of course, the majority of heterosexual men do not molest little girls.

No it doesn’t. Pederast means pedophile.

Wasn’t “pederast” used as a catch-all phrase until fairly recently? As in charging even two consenting adults (usually men) with “the crime against nature?”

That’s usually “sodomy”, not “pederasty”.

Again, do a google book search for uses of the term prior to 1900. Its pretty clear it was being used as a synonym for sodomy.

Ok, so in the 19th century, you’re right. It was being used as a synonym for sodomy. But it doesn’t seem to be used that way anymore. Modern usage of the term seems to be restrained to homosexual pedophiles.

Well, I’m an old guy and not too familiar with current usage. Plus, a lot of my reading dates back quite a few years.

Huh. I never thought about the culture it came from. I’ve only encountered the term as a negative term. I actually didn’t realize it came directly from the Greco-Roman practice. And I only learned about that after reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.