AskDefine | Define adolescent

Dictionary Definition

adolescent adj
1 relating to or peculiar to or suggestive of an adolescent; "adolescent problems"
2 being of the age 13 through 19; "teenage mothers"; "the teen years" [syn: teen, teenage, teenaged]
3 displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity; "adolescent insecurity"; "jejune responses to our problems"; "their behavior was juvenile"; "puerile jokes" [syn: jejune, juvenile, puerile]
4 in the state of development between puberty and maturity; "adolescent boys and girls" n : a juvenile between the onset of puberty and maturity [syn: stripling, teenager]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested 1482, from adolescent, from adolescentem, accusative form of adolescens, present participle of adolescere, "become adult", "grow up", from ad-, to, + alescere, grow or "become nourished". The adjective first appeared in 1785.


  • , /ˌædəˈlɛsənt/, /%

Extensive Definition

"Teen(s)" and "teenager(s)" redirect here, for other uses see Teen (disambiguation)
Adolescence (lat adolescere = (to) grow) is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. This transition involves biological (i.e. pubertal), social, and psychological changes, though the biological or physiological ones are the easiest to measure objectively. Historically, puberty has been heavily associated with teenagers and the onset of adolescent development. In recent years, however, the start of puberty has seen an increase in preadolescence and extension beyond the teenage years, making adolescence less simple to discern.
The home is an important aspect of adolescent psychology: home environment and family have a substantial impact on the developing minds of teenagers, and these developments may reach a climax during adolescence. For example, abusive parents may lead a child to "poke fun" at other classmates when he/she is seven years old or so, but during adolescence, it may become progressively worse, for example, the child may now be using drugs or becoming intolerably violent among other classmates. If the concepts and theory behind of right or wrong were not established early on in a child's life, the lack of this knowledge may impair a teenager's ability to make beneficial decisions as well as allowing his/her impulses to control his/her decisions.
In the search for a unique social identity for themselves, adolescents are frequently confused about what is 'right' and what is 'wrong.' G. Stanley Hall denoted this period as one of "Storm and Stress" and, according to him, conflict at this developmental stage is normal and not unusual. Margaret Mead, on the other hand, attributed the behavior of adolescents to their culture and upbringing. However, Piaget, attributed this stage in development with greatly increased cognitive abilities; at this stage of life the individual's thoughts start taking more of an abstract form and the egocentric thoughts decrease, hence the individual is able to think and reason in a wider perspective.
Positive psychology is sometimes brought up when addressing adolescent psychology as well. This approach towards adolescents refers to providing them with motivation to become socially acceptable and notable individuals, since many adolescents find themselves bored, indecisive and/or unmotivated.
Adolescents may be subject to peer pressure within their adolescent time span, consisting of the need to have sex, consume alcoholic beverages, use drugs, defy their parental figures, or commit any activity in which the person who is subjected to may not deem appropriate, among other things. Peer pressure is a common experience between adolescents and may result briefly or on a larger scale.
It should also be noted that adolescence is the stage of a psychological breakthrough in a person's life when the cognitive development is rapid and the thoughts, ideas and concepts developed at this period of life greatly influence the individual's future life, playing a major role in character and personality formation.
Struggles with adolescent identity and depression usually set in when an adolescent experiences a loss. The most important loss in their lives is the changing relationship between the adolescent and their parents. Adolescents may also experience strife in their relationships with friends. This may be because of things their friends do, such as smoking, that they feel if they don't do, they'll lose their friendship. Teen depression can be extremely intense at times because of physical and hormonal changes but emotional instability is part of being a teenager. Their changing mind, body and relationships often present themselves as stressful and that change, they assume, is something to be feared.
Views of family relationships during adolescence are changing. The old view of family relationships during adolescence put an emphasis on conflict and disengagement and thought storm and stress was normal and even inevitable. However, the new view puts emphasis on transformation or relationships and maintenance of connectedness.


Adolescent sexuality refers to sexual feelings, behavior and development in adolescents and is a stage of human sexuality. Sexuality and sexual desire usually begins to appear along with the onset of puberty. The expression of sexual desire among adolescents (or anyone, for that matter), might be influenced by family values and influences, the culture and religion they have grown up in social engineering, social control, taboos, and other kinds of social mores. The risks of adolescent sexual activity is sometimes associated with: emotional distress (fear of abuse or exploitation), sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS) and pregnancy through failure or non-use of contraceptives. In terms of sexual identity, sexual orientation among adolescents may vary greatly across the spectrum from heterosexuality and LGBT orientations to pansexuality and sexual fetishism.
According to anthropologist Margaret Mead and psychologist Albert Bandura, the turmoil found in adolescence in Western society has a cultural rather than a physical cause; they reported that societies where young women engaged in free sexual activity had no such adolescent turmoil, (that is until more recently, when information about the most dangerous STDs was made publicly accessible.)
The age of consent to sexual activity varies widely between international jurisdictions, ranging from 12 to 21 years, although some governments, such as Canada's, are planning to raise the age to at least 16 in an effort to reduce the incidence of the most serious STD's, pregnancy among teenage girls, and the sexual abuse and exploitation of younger teens.


  • Tennessee Williams: a description of the emotional impact of puberty and adolescence is to be found in The Resemblance Between a Violin and a Coffin
  • Jon Savage: a (pre)history of the development of the teenager is to be found in Teenage (Chatto and Windus, 2007)


External links

  • The 6th Las Vegas Conference on Adolescents - A maximum of 24 Contact Hours are available for the Adolescents Conference in Las Vegas. 6 Hours Pre-Conference Ethics Workshop on April 23, and 18 Hours Full Time Conference April 24-26.
  • Past Notes Passed notes and other cringe-worthy high school epherma, circa mid to late 1990s
adolescent in Arabic: مراهقة
adolescent in Aymara: Yuqalla
adolescent in Bulgarian: Юношество
adolescent in Catalan: Adolescència
adolescent in Czech: Teenager
adolescent in German: Adoleszenz
adolescent in Spanish: Adolescencia
adolescent in Esperanto: Adolesko
adolescent in French: Adolescence
adolescent in Gan Chinese: 後生
adolescent in Galician: Adolescencia
adolescent in Indonesian: Remaja
adolescent in Italian: Adolescenza
adolescent in Hebrew: התבגרות
adolescent in Marathi: पौगंडावस्था
adolescent in Malay (macrolanguage): Remaja
adolescent in Dutch: Adolescentie
adolescent in Japanese: 青年期
adolescent in Polish: Dojrzewanie
adolescent in Portuguese: Adolescência
adolescent in Romanian: Adolescenţă
adolescent in Russian: Подросток
adolescent in Simple English: Adolescence
adolescent in Slovak: Adolescencia
adolescent in Slovenian: Mladostništvo
adolescent in Serbian: Адолесценција
adolescent in Finnish: Teini
adolescent in Swedish: Adolescens
adolescent in Tamil: விடலைப் பருவம்
adolescent in Thai: วัยรุ่น
adolescent in Turkish: Adolesan
adolescent in Contenese: 後生
adolescent in Chinese: 青少年時期

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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