AskDefine | Define catamite

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested in English in 1593: from Catamitus, from Catmite, from sc=polytonic; in Greek mythology, an attractive Trojan boy abducted to Mount Ólympos by the god Zeus to become his cupbearer and, later, his lover.


  • a RP /ˈkætəmaɪt/


  1. The junior partner in a paederastic relationship.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

A catamite is the younger partner in a pederastic relationship between two males, which was a popular arrangement in many areas of the ancient world.
The word is also used to describe the practise in early Japan, where monks would have sexual relationships with younger monks; samurai with pages; and noblemen with younger members of the aristocracy.
The word catamite is derived from the Latin catamitus, itself borrowed from the Etruscan catmite, a corruption of the Greek Ganymedes, the boy who was seduced by Zeus and became his beloved and cup-bearer in Greek mythology.

In literature

Anthony Burgess starts his novel Earthly Powers with the sentence:
In Cormac McCarthy's depiction of survival in a post-apocalyptic society in The Road, where many have reverted to cannibalism, the protagonists encounter, while hiding from a distance, people that were enslaved and who are referred to as "catamites", along with pregnant women and carriage-pulling slaves.
catamite in Asturian: catamita
catamite in Catalan: Catamita
catamite in Spanish: Catamita
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