This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Ephebiphobia

Pronounced /ɛˈfiːbifəʊbɪə/Help with IPA

The modern concern with the problems of youth and especially the problems caused by young people has perhaps made it inevitable that this word would be created. It refers to a fear and loathing of adolescents by adults.

Tanya Byron, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, has recently made ephebiphobia better known by using it in a lecture. Despite a comment by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail on 29 March that she had invented it, she certainly hadn’t. The earliest example I’ve so far found is in the title of Kirk Astroth’s article Beyond Ephebiphobia: Problem Adults or Problem Youths? in Phi Delta Kappan for January 1993. He pointed out then that the attitude behind the word was hardly new: “Nearly every generation of young people has been chastised for being ‘out of control’ or aberrant in some way. Adult claims of degeneration among the young can be found in nearly every previous decade.” Here’s another early use:

Many, if not most, adults dislike junior high kids. They simply don’t like being around them. Others suffer from what has been called ephebiphobia, a fear of adolescents.

Junior High Ministry, by Wayne Rice, 1997.

The word derives from ephebe, the classical Greek word that meant a young man aged between 18 and 20 who undertook military service.

You may not know the word, but you’ve probably had the feeling. “Ephebiphobia”, or “fear of youth”, is one of the most enduring phenomena in our society — and it’s more prevalent than ever.

Daily Telegraph, 17 Mar. 2009.

Prof Byron, clinical psychologist, broadcaster and Government advisor, will address the growing issue of ephebiphobia, the fear of young people. She will argue that society demonises children, rather than the teenagers being the problem themselves.

Liverpool Daily Post, 3 Mar. 2009.

Page created 9 May 2009

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-eph2.htm
Last modified: 9 May 2009.