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Does anybody recognize differences between the following sentences?

  1. She took a perverse interest in photos of boys.
  2. She took a perverted interest in photos of boys.
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closed as off-topic by Mari-Lou A, choster, Mysti, Nathaniel, JEL Dec 10 '15 at 8:03

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Saying that, a question which has no research, no context, no explanation as to why the OP is asking, but only limits itself to asking if there is "any difference" between "perverse" and "perverted" seems to be an question, that can be answered using any online dictionary. This question is off-topic. -1 from me – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '15 at 8:22
Consulting Latin is the most accurate way to check the differences and meanings of each word: english.stackexchange.com/questions/79543/… – Mr. Derpinthoughton Dec 7 '15 at 13:07

Confusing perverse and perverted seems to be a fairly common error in English. Of the sites that explain the difference, Ginger seems to have the most concise definitions:

Perverse: Marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict

Perverted: (of sexual behavior) showing or appealing to bizarre or deviant tastes

As this site explains, neither word necessarily has any sexual connotations:

The sex-related meanings of words tend to drive out all other meanings. Most people think of both “perverse” and “perverted” only in contexts having to do with desire; but “perverse” properly has the function of signifying “stubborn,” “wrong-headed.”

Nothing erotic is suggested by this sort of thing: “Josh perversely insisted on carving wooden replacement parts for his 1958 Ford’s engine.”

It’s better to use “perverted” in relation to abnormal sexual desires; but this word also has non-sexual functions, as in “The bake-sale was perverted by Gladys into a fundraiser for her poker habit.”

These sentences place your examples in a context that might make their word choice more clear:

  1. Despite her strait-laced upbringing, Mandy took a perverse interest in photos of boys in Tiger Beat.
  2. Her maternal instincts thwarted, Matilda took a perverted interest in photos of boys in Speedos.
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I think using 'perverted' makes the jump immediately to the sexual connotation whereas using 'perverse' allows for other interpretations.

perverse* :

  1. Turned aside; hence, specifically, turned away from the (morally) right; willfully erring; wicked; perverted.
  2. Obstinately in the wrong; stubborn; intractable; hence, wayward; vexing; contrary.
  3. (law, of a verdict) Ignoring the evidence or the judge's opinions.

perverted *:

  1. deviating from what is normally considered right, normal or correct

  2. of, relating to, or practicing unusual or "kinky" sex

  3. misrepresented, altered or distorted

*Definitions from Wiktionary.org

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@Mari-LouA- Yeah. That was from a long time ago- probably before I knew how to insert hyperlinks. – Jim Nov 30 '15 at 23:37

"Perverse" means a disposition to oppose, while "pervert" refers to an unusual or bizarre behaviour (usually sexual one). Hope this clears the issue.

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I think it's obnoxious not bizarre, I don't know, I might be wrong, but that sounds weird – Mr. Derpinthoughton Dec 7 '15 at 17:03

Based on Latin and its closest languages, it's possible to affirm that:

She took a perverse interest in photos of boys.

"Perverse" means "with a bad intention" or/and "against the common sense of correctness", thus it can mean sexually or not, it's broader than "perverted".

She took a perverted interest in photos of boys.

Perverted is in a sense the "narrowed" version of "perverse" adding the connotation "with sexual intention", thus "with a bad +sexual+ intention".

If you go back all the way to latin you're going to notice that perverse and perverted came from the same word "pervertere", which if you search its meaning on heavily latin-based languages such as Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, it means to "turn" the person to "evil", or to be that "turned" evil person with inverted (notice "verted" literally means "turned") social values

Concisely saying:

A perverse person is a person with inverted values and character in contrast to the social common sense of values.

P.S.: I'm a native Portuguese speaker.

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"Perverse or Perverted" Usage notes:

  • The second adjective makes a much more serious charge than the first.
  • Perverse just implies that something defies convention and normal practice, as in: He took a perverse delight in watching the film credits to the very last minute. The habit described could never be thought of as morally reprehensible, whereas perverted does imply an infringement on the common moral code."

(Pam Peters, The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge University Press, 2004)

  • "Perverse describes a person or an action that is 'contrary,''obstinate,' something hard to account for rationally.

    • It would be perverse to ask directions from someone in the street and then take a different turning to the one you had been told.
  • "The adjective is often used to describe people's attitude to life:

    • There's even some perverse enjoyment to be derived from the words of a psychiatrist . . . that a 20-year-old woman without 'a man in sight' had better start worrying that she'll never find a mate. (Francine Prose, The New York Times)
  • Perverted has a sexual application almost exclusively, and characterizes behavior or attitudes that are 'deviant. ' Even in such a notoriously vague area as sexual definition, perverted still carries some weight and is generally applied to activities that are not merely off the beaten track but are also offensive."

(Philip Gooden, Who's Whose: A No-Nonsense Guide to Easily Confused Words. Walker, 2004)



  • Meaning "wrong, not in accord with what is accepted" is from 1560s; sense of "obstinate, stubborn" is from 1570s. It keeps the non-sexual senses of pervert (v.) and allows the psychological ones to go with perverted.


  • 1660s, "turned from the right way," past participle adjective from pervert (v.). With implied sexual sense by 1897.
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@Elberich Schneider - you should definitely have shown a little effort in making some research before asking. My answer as well as others' show that it is just general reference. And please show respect for other users. – Josh61 Dec 3 '15 at 21:38
If you want to speak with me, please contact me on Italian Language & Usage, thank you. – Elberich Schneider Dec 7 '15 at 22:09
No thanks, the best thing to do at this point is to ignore the whole thing. I doubt it will attract more answers. Just let the new user have his own 'poor' revenge. He is just a loser!! – Josh61 Dec 10 '15 at 19:55

A perverse interest is an interest that a person has, despite the fact that holding it runs counter to the interested person's interests.

"S/he took a perverse interest in vanity searching him/herself on Google".

A perverted interest is an interest in perversion; most often referring to sexual perversion, or what is more commonly known as "kink", in current useage.

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