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Ephebophilia is defined as an erotic age preference (chronophilia) for sexually mature youth, usually between 15-19 years of age. It is often used to distinguish an attraction to older teenagers from an attraction to prepubescent or pubescent youth (described as pedophilia and hebephilia respectively). A person with such attractions is referred to as an ephebophile. Researchers connected to CAMH tend to distinguish hebephilia ("preference for 11–14 year-olds") from ephebophilia ("preference for 15–19 year-olds").[1] There is presently no clinical diagnosis of ephebophilia, and the concept is also of questionable validity as a chronophilia due in part to its normativity and lack of a clear boundary.


The term comes from the Ancient Greek words ἔφηβος (éphēbos, meaning "adolescent") and φιλία (philía, meaning "love" or "friendship").

Lack of concept validity and confusion re. distinction vs Hebephilia

Some minor attracted people, sexologists, psychiatrists and psychologists question the conceptual validity of this category,[2][3] sometimes arguing or implying that for the majority of men, heterosexual ephebophilia might be "normative" or teleiophilic. One of the most frequent criticisms of "ephebophilia" is the implausibility of a chronophilia category that orients itself roughly to the beginning of the final Tanner Stage (5), and then ends in a developmental "no man's land" at around age 18/19. Pedophilia and hebephilia, on the other hand, can at least be seen as well-aligned with "developmental milestones". One commonly stated criticism of ephebophilia as a discrete clinical concept is the implausibility of an "exclusive" or strongly preferential ephebophile ever existing, when adjacent labels describe attractions that are in fact very similar in nature.


Skye Stephens and Michael C. Seto argue that ephebophilia contrasts what a paraphilia entails, since "older adolescents are reproductively viable and the fact that typically men are sexually attracted to older adolescents, as reflected in self-report, psychophysiological, and pornography use studies."[4] According to psychologist and sexologist James Cantor, it is "very common for regular men to be attracted to 18-year-olds or 20-year-olds. It's not unusual for a typical 16-year-old to be attractive to many men and the younger we go the fewer and fewer men are attracted to that age group."[5]

Ephebophilia might, then be reclassified as teleiophilia directed towards minors, since a special attraction to those who are sexually mature but with less legal rights, has no basis in nature, and is more akin to a medicalization of Jailbait.

History, and conflation with Hebephilia

The concept of Ephebophilia has been described in both artistic[6] and more recently in pseudomedical terms. The first known mention of Ephebophilia was in French (éphébophilie), in Georges Saint-Paul's 1896 book, Tares et Poisons: Perversion et Perversité Sexuelles.[7] It has been used in publications by Dutch psychologist Frits Bernard, in 1950, under a pseudonym.[8] The term derives from the Ancient Greek: ἔφηβος (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) i.e. "love".[9] Hebephilia, on the other hand, was first seen in 1955, in forensic work by Hammer and Glueck.[7] Despite the long dates of first-use, Google Ngram Viewer tells us that neither term gained widespread use in the literature, until the 1980s (Ephebophilia) and late 00s/10s (where Hebephilia, as popularized by Ray Blanchard has slowly come to predominate).

The terms have even been used interchangeably, depending upon the gender of the minor. This is something that was common in the late 00s, when the concept of Hebephilia first became popular among MAPs, and Ephebophilia was mentioned incidentally in the same or similar publications - by authors such as Ray Blanchard.[10] This alternative mode of use may owe to the somewhat gendered etymological underpinnings of the original Greek terms, with Ephebe implying masculinity, as described earlier, and Hebe taking on a gender-neutral or feminine meaning, as in the Greek Goddess of Youth.[11] Karen Franklin suggested that Hebephilia may have been used as a simple variation of Ephebophilia.[12]

The "Ephebophilia Cliché"

The term Ephebophilia is sometimes considered to be a cliché of online debates concerning sexual relationships between adults and older youths. It is said by some that the marque of a nitpicker and "pedophile apologist" is that he or she mentions the term "Ephebophilia" whenever such an adult (Jeffrey Epstein being the most cliché)[13] is misdefined as a pedophile. This might, however, be an outdated cliché, as since the 10s, popular discourse has tended towards using Hebephilia to distinguish attractions (and sometimes erroneously - actions) from Pedophilia.


  1. Blanchard, R., Lykins, A. D., Wherrett, D., Kuban, M. E., Cantor, J. M., Blak, T., Dickey, R., & Klassen, P. E. (2009). "Pedophilia, Hebephilia, and the DSM-V," Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(3), 335-350.
  2. Walker, A. (2019). “I’m Not like That, So Am I Gay?” The Use of Queer-Spectrum Identity Labels Among Minor-Attracted People. Journal of Homosexuality, 1–24. doi:10.1080/00918369.2019.1613856
  3. Lievesley, R., Swaby, H., Harper, C.A. et al. Primary Health Professionals’ Beliefs, Experiences, and Willingness to Treat Minor-Attracted Persons. Arch Sex Behav 51, 923–943 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02271-7
  4. Phenix A, Hoberman H (2015). Sexual Offending: Predisposing Antecedents, Assessments and Management. Springer. p. 30. ISBN 978-1493924165.
  5. Stephenson, Wesley (30 July 2014). "How many men are paedophiles?". BBC Magazine. London, England: BBC.
  6. Buffière, F. (1980). Éros adolescent : la pédérastie dans la Grèce antique, Paris, p.11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Janssen, Diederik F. (2015). "'Chronophilia': Entries of Erotic Age Preference into Descriptive Psychopathology". Medical History. 59 (4): 575–98.
  8. Vriendschap
  9. Rahman, T. (1988). "Ephebophilia: the case for the use of a new word". Forum for Modern Language Studies. 24 (2): 126–141.
  10. Blanchard, Ray; Lykins, Amy D.; Wherrett, Diane; Kuban, Michael E.; Cantor, James M.; Blak, Thomas; Dickey, Robert; Klassen, Philip E. (2009). "Pedophilia, Hebephilia, and the DSM-V". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 38 (3): 335–50.
  11. Merriam Webster: Hebe
  12. Franklin, K. (2010). "Hebephilia: Quintessence of diagnostic pretextuality" (PDF). Behavioral Sciences & the Law. 28 (6): 751–768.
  13. Express article featuring the Cliche

See also

External Links

  • "Ephebophilia" - Wikipedia article, containing some references, and seemingly no criticism.