There are stories for children and for adults. But when I say "adult stories" people tend to think they are erotica/porn stories.

What is a good way to refer to adult stories?

Example of adult stories: Lovecraft's, Poe's, Kafka's, etc.

  • Related (not a dupe): english.stackexchange.com/questions/1228/… – RegDwigнt Sep 12 '10 at 17:38
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    Hey, a lot of children can read Lovecraft/Poe/Kafka too! – ShreevatsaR Sep 13 '10 at 7:03
  • It would be good to get an answer that is not specific to "stories," because this is also a problem if you are talking about movies. – Larry Wang Sep 13 '10 at 10:53
  • Once, at a Discovery Zone-type store, I asked a saleswoman if they had puzzles and things not for kids. She yelled across the store to her coworker, "Hey, Linda! Show this guy the adult toys." We all had a chuckle then. – moioci Sep 14 '10 at 5:16
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    Respectable point! And it led me to think why is it always assumed that an adult's only apparent feature is sex! Anyway, back to the point, I recommend the key word "Grown up", mentioned in one answer below, for it sounds to be leaning more towards mental than towards sexual side. – Dia Sep 22 '10 at 5:34

It depends on your audience: if you're talking to children you could say "stories for grown-ups", and if you're talking to teenagers or adults you could follow GBackMania's advice and use "for {age} and older".

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    I recommend the key word "Grown up", for it sounds to be leaning more towards mental than towards sexual side. +1 – Dia Sep 22 '10 at 5:35
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    "for ages 9-99. Sorry Grandma." – Sam Oct 26 '11 at 18:52

You are right, the word adult has come to have an erotic connotation. You might want to use mature, advanced, or even sophisticated.


What about "general fiction"?

  • What if you want to include non-fiction as well? – keithjgrant Sep 22 '10 at 16:50

Use "Stories for adults".

Google this phrase and you will notice that the most of the results are not about erotic stories. For example:

Bible Stories for Adults

Scary Stories for Adults

Christmas Stories for Adults

But if you google "adult stories", then most results are erotic stories or porn.


I have heard people say "It is for {age} and above".

  • My understanding is that Cuchosan wanted to refer to adults and not to any specific age. – b.roth Sep 13 '10 at 9:10
  • I understand that. He wanted a good way to refer to adult stories, and so using a specific age would convey the same message! – GBackMania Sep 14 '10 at 15:18

Generally, if you don't specify something as children's or young adult, it'll be assumed that you mean adult level.

If that isn't the case, you could go with upper-level or higher-level stories. You could try "mature," but you might end up with the same problem.

  • +1. If you go out of your way to point out that it isn't targeted to younger readers, it is perfectly natural for someone to assume that there's a good reason younger readers with good reading skills should be steered away from the material. – T.E.D. Oct 26 '11 at 13:19

I have heard the word 'literature' used in this case, although it does not specifically exclude kids' lit, and in some situations would exclude books written for adults but not to a high standard.


My choice would be adult fiction or fiction for adults.

  • I disagree with the thrust of your point. I merely don't accept the OP's (and, apparently, your) presumption that 'adult' must always have smutty connotations. The Adult Fiction section (so titled) of my local library seems to manage to avoid enticing its patrons into expectations of erotica just fine. – Erik Kowal Apr 16 '14 at 21:53

How about non-children’s literature?

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