AskDefine | Define puerile

Dictionary Definition

puerile adj
1 of or characteristic of a child; "puerile breathing"
2 displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity; "adolescent insecurity"; "jejune responses to our problems"; "their behavior was juvenile"; "puerile jokes" [syn: adolescent, jejune, juvenile]

User Contributed Dictionary



From pueriliīs 'childish', from puer a child, a boy.


  • italbrac RP /ˈpjʊə.raɪl/, /"pjU@.raIl/
  • italbrac US /ˈpjʊrɪl/ or /ˈpjʊraɪl/


  1. Characteristic of, or pertaining to, a boy or boys; confer: puellile.
  2. Childish; trifling; silly.
    The French have been notorious through generations for their puerile affectation of Roman forms, models, and historic precedents. -De Quincey.
    1927. "From the table he had received the gout; from the alcove a tendency to convulsions; from the grandeeship a pride so vast and puerile that he seldom heard anything that was said to him and talked to the ceiling in a perpetual monologue; from the exile, oceans of boredom, a boredom so persuasive that it was like pain,—he woke up with it and spent the day with it, and it sat by his bed all night watching his sleep." Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, p. 79


* 1785, Vicesimus Knox, Liberal Education: Or, a Practical Treatise on the Methods of Acquiring Useful and Polite Learning, §XXXI: on the regulation of puerile diverſions, pp1 & 1–2 & 3
  • Many fanciful methods have been invented by those who wished to render puerile sports conducive to improvement. I never found that they were successful.
    I must own myself an advocate for puerile liberty*, during the allotted hours of relaxation. Boys have much restraint and confinement in the time of study.
    Those of the effeminate kind super induce effeminacy; weakness of mind, no less than imbecility of body. Something similar happens in puerile diversions. The boy who has been kept in leading-strings too long, and restrained from hardy sports by the soundness of his mother, will scarcely ever become a man; or possess that becoming spirit which can enable him to act his part with propriety.
  • 1931, Gaston Delayen, Cicero, p17
    In 664 Cicero, who had just completed his sixteenth year, exchanged the puerile for the manly gown. At that age the child passed from boyhood to adolescence, which lasted till the thirteenth year; after which came youth, continuing to forty-five, followed by maturity…
  • 1934, Marjorie Coryn, The Black Prince, 1330–1376, p1
    Many a father takes his small son to circus or show, and many a father gives audible and delighted signs of his pleasure in the puerile spectacle, while his offspring sits in dignified silence beside him, too overawed by the splendour of the occasion to offer other than mute and grave-eyed homage to it.
  • 1934, John Clarke Stobart, The Divine Spark, p171
    Did you ever hear the word “puerile”? Puer is a boy. What sort of boy was Albert if he did not love letters? Idle. Yes. Now write this down: “Albert, an idle boy, did not love letters”.
  • 1948, Therese Benedek, Insight and Personality Adjustment: a study of the psychological effects of war, p253
    In the initial phases, during prepuberty, the girl, although she already desires attention, has a relationship with the boy purely on the basis of competition, on the level of puerile identification.
  • 1993, Eva C. Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: sexual politics in ancient Athens'', p277
    In some cases the youth is shown with what may be termed a “puerile erection”; evidently the vase painters wanted to show that the passive partner does derive some pleasure from the contact, even without active participation.
  • 2002, Nino A. Sylmar, The Boy from Corregidor: A True Story, p214
    For what seemed like an eternity, Sib watched the perfectly sculpted puerile form, completely unadorned except for the coquettish smile on his pouty lips…
  • 2004, Colin Feltham, Problems Are Us: Or Is It Just Me?, p114
    The point is — we are all complex and we are all (in my ever so humble, ex-boy, puerile opinion) ‘fucked up’, boys and girls, men and women…


Related terms

Derived terms




  1. puerile, childish, juvenile, boyish
  2. children's (attribute), baby (attr.)


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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