An adult is a human being or living organism that is of relatively mature age, typically associated with sexual maturity and the attainment of reproductive age. In human context, the term has other subordinate meanings associated with social and legal concepts; for example, a legal adult is a legal concept for a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible (contrast with "minor"). Adulthood can be defined in terms of physiology, psychological adult development, law, personal character, or social status.
These different aspects of adulthood are often inconsistent and contradictory. A person may be biologically an adult, and have adult behavior but still be treated as a child if they are under the legal age of majority. Conversely one may legally be an adult but possess none of the maturity and responsibility that may define adult character.
An event relating to the oncoming of adulthood is Coming of age, which encompasses passing a series of tests to demonstrate that a person is prepared for adulthood, or reaching a specified age, sometimes in conjunction with demonstrating preparation. Most modern societies determine legal adulthood based on reaching a legally specified age without requiring a demonstration of physical maturity or preparation for adulthood.
Some propose that moving into adulthood involves an emotional structuring of denial, suggesting this process becomes necessary to cope with one's own behavior, especially in uncomfortable situations, and also the behavior of others.
Famous quotes containing the word adult:
“Fashions change, and with the new psychoanalytical perspective of the postwar period [WWII], child rearing became enshrined as the special responsibility of mothers ... any shortcoming in adult life was now seen as rooted in the failure of mothering during childhood.”
—Sylvia Ann Hewitt (20th century)
“The truth is, no matter how trying they become, babies two and under dont have the ability to make moral choices, so they cant be bad. That category only exists in the adult mind.”
—Anne Cassidy (20th century)
“[University students] hated the hypocrisy of adult society, the rigidity of its political institutions, the impersonality of its bureaucracies. They sought to create a society that places human values before materialistic ones, that has a little less head and a little more heart, that is dominated by self-interest and loves its neighbor more. And they were persuaded that group protest of a militant nature would advance those goals.”
—Muriel Beadle (b. 1915)