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 phrase is commonly rendered in English as "There is no accounting for taste(s)."[3] 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 saying is an ancient Roman adage. Its vernacular and textual origin are unknown, and a subject of debate in itself.

The saying is altered in Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamozov (part 4, book 11, section 4) to read: "De ideabus non est disputandum."

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 alternative 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 phrase is also quoted in Philip K. Dick's novels Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and The Crack in Space, as well as David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.

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  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.

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