Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.


time of life from onset of puberty to full adulthood. The exact period of adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physiological and psychological changes. Physiological changes lead to sexual maturity and usually occur during the first several years of the period. This process of physical changes is known as puberty, and it generally takes place in girls between the ages of 8 and 14, and boys between the ages of 9 and 16. In puberty, the pituitary gland increases its production of gonadotropins, which in turn stimulate the production of predominantly estrogen in girls, and predominantly testosterone in boys. Estrogen and testosterone are responsible for breast development, hair growth on the face and body, and deepening voice. These physical changes signal a range of psychological changes, which manifest themselves throughout adolescence, varying significantly from person to person and from one culture to another. Psychological changes generally include questioning of identity and achievement of an appropriate sex role; movement toward personal independence; and social changes in which, for a time, the most important factor is peer group relations. Adolescence in Western societies tends to be a period of rebellion against adult authority figures, often parents or school officials, in the search for personal identity. Many psychologists regard adolescence as a byproduct of social pressures specific to given societies, not as a unique period of biological turmoil. In fact, the classification of a period of life as "adolescence" is a relatively recent development in many Western societies, one that is not recognized as a distinct phase of life in many other cultures.


See T. Hine, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager (1999).


the stage in the LIFE COURSE between childhood and adulthood marked by the beginnings of adult sexuality but coming before full adult status or final detachment from the FAMILY OF ORIGIN OR ORIENTATION.

In simple societies the passage from childhood to adulthood is often marked by rites de passage (see RITUAL), or by the provision of young mens (and less often young women's) AGE SETS. However, it is within modern societies, with their distinctive emphasis on YOUTH CULTURE, fostered by the MASS MEDIA OF COMMUNICATION, that adolescence has achieved a particular importance. In these societies, in contrast to more TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES, adolescents must choose their CAREERS and sexual partners as well as their general LIFESTYLE. Thus adolescence, the time of educational examinations and entry into work, is also a stage in the life cycle which is associated with individual experimentation in sexual and leisure behaviour. It may also be a time for questioning received values, and of rebellion against parental patterns of behaviour (see also GENERATION). The search for independence, and the heightened sense of self-awareness and uncertainty about SELF, can also lead to psychological crisis and psychological disturbance. See also YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, DELINQUENCY.


Stage in the cycle of erosion following youth and preceding maturity.
The period of life from puberty to maturity.


novel of young love. [Am. Lit.: Booth Tarkington Seventeen in Magill I, 882]
References in periodicals archive ?
There is a rapid increase in obesity across adolescence and young adulthood, according to the authors.
The authors also argued that the age of adolescence should be expanded to range from 10 to 24 because of physical and neurological growth that continues into the 20s, combined with social changes such as the later adoption of adult roles.
Adolescence is an awkward period in which the completion of physical growth at the end of adolescence is not smooth, but rather marked by either small or large imbalances that affect the nervous and endocrine system.
However, during early adolescence, total adiposity affects the blood glucose level more strongly than central adiposity, whereas during late adolescence, central adiposity affects more strongly.
The findings of this population-based study indicate that "the onset of depression during adolescence may forecast problems in adapting during this key transitional phase leading into adulthood.
Evidence from many clinical trials has indicated that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is one of the last areas of the brain to develop during adolescence.
Furman and Buhrmester (1992) observed transformations in the parent-adolescent relationship over time and reported that adolescent conflict during early years of adolescence and age were linked.
Given the current obesity pandemic, it is important to determine whether elevated BMI in childhood [or] adolescence .
The author concludes The Case Against Adolescence by offering some radical suggestions for ways we can grant increasing autonomy and responsibility to adolescents and re-integrate them into the fabric of our communities.
He thoroughly examines each topic and passionately leads his reader through the complex causes and influences related to a boy's adolescence and offers helpful suggestions for dealing with them.
Past research has supported the earlier conceptualization that adolescent egocentrism peaks in early adolescence and then begins to decline (Elkind & Bowen, 1979).
Adolescence is a unique period of development marked by rapid changes in brain structure, behavior, and social functioning.