The love that dare not speak its name

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The love that dare not speak its name is a phrase from the poem "Two Loves" by Lord Alfred Douglas, published in 1894. It was mentioned at Oscar Wilde's gross indecency trial, and it is classically interpreted as a euphemism for homosexuality (although Wilde denied it as such),[1] or a typically taboo preference or practise.[2]

In Wilde's definition, "the love that dare not speak its name" was:

[...] such a great affection of an elder for a younger man [...] There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.[3][4]

Some authors have suggested this speech was referring to paederasty, rather than male homosexuality in general.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The love that dare not speak its name". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Google Definitions
  3. ^ "Testimony of Oscar Wilde". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  4. ^ See also Ellmann (1988:435)
  5. ^ The Importance of Being Earnest. 1946. p. 8. Under cross examination Wilde presented an eloquent defense of pederasty