AskDefine | Define philanderer

Dictionary Definition

philanderer n : a man who likes many women and has short sexual relationships with them [syn: womanizer, womaniser]

User Contributed Dictionary



From philander lover < (philandros) < (philos) "love" + (anēr) "man".


  • /fɪ.ˈlæn.dɝ.ɝ/


  1. One that plays at courtship; a fickle lover; a flirt (usually applies only to men).


fickle lover

Extensive Definition

Promiscuity refers to sexual behaviour of a man or woman who either casually or regularly copulates with several partners. Most religions disapprove of and discourage sexual promiscuity, though some permit it, such as religious prostitution in ancient Mesopotamia and Greece.
Evolutionary psychologists propose that humans have inherited both a propensity to form lasting male-female bonds and a propensity for promiscuity. Their critics counter that humans are born with no such propensities, either for faithfulness or for promiscuity.

Human promiscuity

What sexual behaviour is considered socially acceptable, and what behaviour is "promiscuous", varies much among different cultures. In some cultural contexts, a woman who copulates with a man or men other than her husband is considered promiscuous, while in another culture a married or unmarried man's extra- and pre-marital like behaviour may not be considered promiscuous.
In some cultures, the term is applied to any man or woman who has more than one lover at a given time. In some industrialized societies, it is likely used only, and derogatorily, in describing women who have many sexual partners, seemingly chosen indiscriminately. In such a case, no set number of sexual partner delimits the promiscuous from the not promiscuous.
Accurately assessing people's sexual behavior is difficult, since there are strong social and personal motivations, depending on social sanctions and taboos, for either minimizing or exaggerating reported sexual activity. Extensive research has produced mathematical models of sexual behaviour comparing the results generated with the observed prevalence of STDs to statistically estimate the probable sexual behavior of the studied population.
A person's numbers of sexual partners, both in a lifetime and concurrently, varies widely within a population. In the U.S., seven women is the median number of lifetime female sexual partners; four men is the median number of male partners for women; 29 percent of men and 9 percent of women report to have had more than 15 sexual partners. Studies of the spread of STDs consistently demonstrate that a small percentage of the studied population have more partners than the average man or woman, and a smaller number of people have fewer than the statistical average. An important question in the epidemiology of venereal diseases is whether or not these groups copulate mostly at random (with sexual partners from throughout a population) or within their social groups (assortative mixing).
A 2006 comprehensive global study (analysing data from 59 countries worldwide) found no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases. This contradicts other studies.

Male promiscuity

The words womanizer (Br Eng: womaniser), wencher, playboy, philanderer, libertine, rounder, debauchee, player, mack daddy, stud, ladies' man, skirt-chaser, man-whore, manslag, ladykiller, stallion, Cad and rake (rakehell) refer to a man who (depending on the individual's sexual orientation) has love affairs with women or men he either cannot or will not marry or commit himself to. Typically, the love affairs are sexually motivated, with slight emotional connection and attachment. The names of real and fictional seducers have become eponyms for such promiscuous men. The most famous are the historical Casanova (1725-1798), the fictional Don Juan who first appeared in the 17th century, Lothario from Nicholas Rowe's 1703 play The Fair Penitent, How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson, and perhaps most famously, Ian Fleming's literary and film character James Bond.
During the English Restoration period (1660-1688), the words rake hell and rake were used glamorously: the Restoration rake is a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat typified by Charles II's courtiers, the Earl of Rochester and the Earl of Dorset, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. The Restoration rake is celebrated in the Restoration comedy of the 1660s and the 1670s. After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the rake was perceived as negative and became the butt of moralistic tales in which his typical fate was debtor's prison, permanent venereal disease, and, in the case of William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, venereally-caused insanity and internment to Bedlam.

Female promiscuity

Since at least 1450, the pejorative word slut has been used to describe a sexually promiscuous woman and also historically refers to an unhygienic woman who is personally dirty and unkempt.

Nature versus nurture controversy

Evolutionary psychologists propose that a conditional tendency for promiscuity is inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Male promiscuity, they say, was advantageous because it allowed males to father more children. Female promiscuity, on the other hand, is said to have allowed female ancestors to have children with superior genetic potential. Those who oppose evolutionary psychology, such as those in the radical science movement, propose that humans are born with no significant dispositions for or against promiscuity, or for or against any number of other social behaviors.

In the animal world

In the animal world, some species of animals, including birds such as swans, once believed monogamous, are now known to engage in extra-pair copulations. Although social monogamy occurs in about 90 percent of avian species and about 3 percent of mammalian species, investigators estimate that 90 percent of socially monogamous species exhibit individual promiscuity in the form of extra-pair copulations.
Among primates, chimpanzees and bonobos, humans' closest living relatives, are promiscuous.


philanderer in Belarusian: Праміскуітэт
philanderer in Bulgarian: Промискуитет
philanderer in Czech: Promiskuita
philanderer in German: Promiskuität
philanderer in Spanish: Promiscuidad
philanderer in Croatian: Promiskuitet
philanderer in Dutch: Promiscuïteit
philanderer in Japanese: 二股
philanderer in Norwegian: Promiskuitet
philanderer in Polish: Promiskuityzm
philanderer in Portuguese: Promiscuidade
philanderer in Russian: Промискуитет
philanderer in Slovak: Promiskuita
philanderer in Serbian: Промискуитет
philanderer in Swedish: Promiskuitet
philanderer in Ukrainian: Проміскуїтет
philanderer in Chinese: 劈腿族

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Casanova, Don Juan, Lothario, Romeo, amoroso, beau, boyfriend, caballero, cavalier, cavaliere servente, chaser, debauchee, esquire, fellow, flame, flirt, gallant, gay deceiver, gay dog, gigolo, heartbreaker, inamorato, lady-killer, lecher, libertine, love-maker, lover, lover-boy, man, masher, necker, old man, petter, philander, playboy, profligate, rake, rakehell, rip, roue, rounder, seducer, sheik, skirt chaser, squire, stud, sugar daddy, swain, swinger, walking phallus, wanton, wolf, woman chaser, womanizer, young man
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