If I understand the etymology of pedophile and pederast, both mean child lover. Is there a difference in their connotation?
In some recent local news stories that discuss changing sex offender laws, the controversy has centered around dividing the pedophiles and the rapists from the more questionable cases of older teens having sex with younger teens. In a lunchtime debate, I contended that we should not worry so much about the pedophiles as we should the pederasts.
Which brings me to the crux of it. My understanding of these words is that
A pedophile is sexually attracted to children.
A pederast has sex with children.
Therefore, one can be a pedophile without having sex with children, and as a matter of fact, once a pedophile has sex with a child, then that person is a pederast.
However, given the reaction to my statement, I feel I may have a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of the word pedophile. Does this word imply more than just attraction? I thought -phile indicated an affinity for something, not necessarily an indulgence in it.
There are some great answers here. I was inspired to look deeper and found that in the English language, there are only four words ending in -erast. These are pederast, paederast (alternate spelling), philerast (the boy in a pederastic relationship), and federast (merging "federalist" and "pederast"). It looks like pedophile and pederast may be unique in the English language for this -phile/-erast distinction.