De gustibus non est disputandum

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De gustibus non est disputandum, or de gustibus non disputandum est, is a Latin maxim meaning "In matters of taste, there can be no disputes" (literally "about tastes, it should not be disputed/discussed").[1][2] The implication is that everyone's personal preferences are merely subjective opinions that cannot be right or wrong, so they should never be argued about as if they were. Sometimes the phrase is expanded as De gustibus et coloribus... referring to tastes and colors. The phrase is most commonly rendered in English as "There is no accounting for taste" (or "There is no accounting for tastes").[3]

The phrase is quoted by Mitya in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.

The phrase is misquoted in Act I of Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull. The character Shamrayev conflates it with the phrase de mortuis nil nisi bonum (in the alternate form: de mortuis, aut bene aut nihil: "of the dead, either [speak] good or [say] nothing"), resulting in "de gustibus aut bene, aut nihil", "Let nothing be said of taste but what is good."[4]

The narrator in Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman cites it in a discussion about "Hobby-Horses," or personal infatuations: "De gustibus non est disputandum—that is, there is no disputing against Hobby-Horses; and for my part, I seldom do."

In Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach, the phrase is used by the Tortoise in a discussion with Achilles about M. C. Escher and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The phrase is used by Malcolm Wilkerson in the Season 1 episode titled "Shame" of Malcolm in the Middle, to stop an obnoxious schoolmate from parroting back what he is saying.

Norm Peterson recites a portion of this phrase in the introduction to the Season 5 episode of Cheers, "Abnormal Psychology", after opting to attend a gladiator film festival instead of going with Woody on a group fishing trip.

It is the title of a paper by George Stigler and Gary Becker arguing that economists should treat the preferences as fixed and uniform across economic agents.[5]

In Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Jason Tavner questions why Kathy is buying dead flies for protein and quotes the phrase "De gustibus non disputandum."

In the TV series Strangers With Candy (episode S1x09: Jerry is Only Skin Deep), principal Onyx Blackman declares "De gustibus non disputandum est. Let's get in on!" as the ballot closes for homecoming queen.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "De gustibus non est disputandum". The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002
  2. ^ "de gustibus non est disputandum". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
  3. ^ Bartlett, John (1992). Familiar Quotations (16 ed.). Boston: Little, Brown. p. 118. ISBN 0-316-08277-5. 
  4. ^ Chekhov, Anton (1997). "Introduction". The Seagull. Trans. by Stephen Mulrine. London: Nick Hern Books Ltd. pp. xvii. ISBN 1-85459-193-2. 
  5. ^ Stigler, George A.; Becker, Gary S. (1977). "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum". The American Economic Review. American Economic Association. 67 (2): 76–90. doi:10.2307/1807222. JSTOR 1807222. 

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