George Monbiot created this word in an article entitled Lest we forget in the Guardian on 11 November 2008: “There are plenty of words to describe the horrors of the 1939–45 war. But there were none, as far as I could discover, that captured the character of the first world war. So I constructed one from the Greek word ephebos, a young man of fighting age. Ephebicide is the wanton mass slaughter of the young by the old.”
The root appears in a few English words, including ephebe, the Greek word filtered through Latin that means a young man aged between 18 and 20 who undertook military service. Ephebiatrics is a rare medical term for the branch of medicine that deals with the study of adolescence and the diseases of young adults; an ephebophile is a adult who is sexually attracted to adolescents.
Though George Monbiot created it afresh, there is one previous example of ephebicide on record, in a work of 1979, Saul’s Fall: A Critical Fiction. This purported to be a collection of critical essays about a play by a forgotten Spanish author, but the whole book, including the play, was an invention by Herbert Lindenberger, now Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Stanford University.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Lie Doggo; Fewmet; Dingbat; Kibosh; Caucus; Oryzivorous; Kick the bucket; Satisficer; Beside oneself; Words of the Year 2015; Peradventure; Sconce; Orchidelirium; How’s your father; Goon; Emoji; Thank your mother for the rabbits; Nonplussed; Bob’s-a-dying; Methinks; Bill of goods; Binge-watching; Codswallop; That’s all she wrote; Great Scott.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!