from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A boy who has a sexual relationship with a man.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A boy kept for unnatural purposes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A boy kept for unnatural purposes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The junior partner in a paederastic relationship.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a boy who submits to a sexual relationship with a man


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin catamītus, from Catamītus, Ganymede, from Etruscan Catmite, from Greek Ganumēdēs.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First attested in English in 1593: from Latin Catamītus, from Etruscan Catmite, from Ancient Greek Γανυμήδης (Ganumḗdēs, "Ganymede"); in Greek mythology, an attractive Trojan boy abducted to Mount Ólympos by the god Zeus to become his cupbearer and, later, his lover.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word catamite.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Ogged was a prodigious catamite.

    December 10, 2006

  • I asked him what he thought of the charge of pederasty brought against the bard. He lifted his hands and said: All we can say is that life ran very high in those days. Lovely!


    -- The sense of beauty leads us astray, said beautifulinsadness Best to ugling Eglinton.

    Joyce, Ulysses, 9

    January 6, 2007

  • Sounds like this is right up there with marmite.

    July 20, 2008

  • Second definition: WeirdNet!

    July 28, 2008

  • I have a fun story for this word: my friend Kevin and I always used to IM insults at each other whenever we were online at the same time. I'd recently read a book where this word popped up (something nautical, I think, not that it matters) and so I sent it his way. He was, shocking as it may seem, very angry. He was a big egotistical know-it-all though, so it was probably more from the fact that he had to look it up, than the insult itself. Well, maybe it was a tie...

    October 17, 2008

  • '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'. -- Wikipedia

    I encountered this word in the Libertine play, 'The Farce of Sodom, or, the Quintessence of Debauchery'. In the list of 'dramatis personae', the character of Pockenello is described as 'Pimp, Catamite, and the King's Favourite'.

    February 9, 2009

  • I came across it in Anthony Burgess' novel Earthly Powers.

    February 9, 2009

  • I was reading Mary Stewart's Merlin series and had to look up catamite. Now I have yet another word in my insult arsenal. Maybe cornhobble could also mean to slap a person in the fact with a word they don't know?

    March 29, 2009

  • the etymology lends a bizarre significance to The Ganymede Club for gentlemen's personal gentlemen

    October 29, 2009

  • Came across it in Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

    November 8, 2009

  • From "C. Musonius Rufus" by Guy Davenport

    January 19, 2010

  • Shevek's comment still makes me laugh out loud, as my roommate just found out.

    December 2, 2012

  • List idea: cat but no cat, thanks.

    May 7, 2018

  • One of the most memorable opening lines of any novel is that that begins Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers:

    "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

    This is in medias res with a vengeance.

    May 7, 2018

  • Top stuff.

    May 7, 2018

  • Burroughs' memoirs with a vengeance

    May 8, 2018