adul·​ter·​ous ə-ˈdəl-t(ə-)rəs How to pronounce adulterous (audio)
: relating to, characterized by, or given to adultery
an adulterous affair
an adulterous wife
adulterously adverb

Example Sentences

had an adulterous affair that nearly destroyed his marriage
Recent Examples on the Web Her debut, Conversations With Friends—the story of two best friends and one’s adulterous relationship with an older married man—had been out for a year, and already Rooney was haloed by a cult status: a literary novelist who had broken the mainstream. Olivia Mark, Vogue, 9 Aug. 2021 And even one of his most engaging (and, at the same time, utterly ridiculous) novels, the Spillane-like thriller Tough Guys Don’t Dance—in which two adulterous women get their heads chopped off and tossed into a burlap sack—could neither shock nor titillate its way into anything but a bad movie. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2023 Her performance as the doomed, adulterous title character earned glowing reviews. New York Times, 16 Mar. 2021 Elizabeth Olsen’s turn as the unfiltered adulterous Candy Montgomery, along with Jesse Plemons’ performance as the dim-witted and simple churchgoing husband of her friend Betty Gore, are expected to be among the top prospects in the acting races, but not where pundits had initially speculated. Clayton Davis, Variety, 25 Apr. 2023 During the 2016 presidential primaries, Cruz denounced Trump as an adulterous liar. Joseph Morton, Dallas News, 22 Mar. 2023 But in their case, a glamorous romp became an overdetermined narrative, beset by Hollywood excess and mental illness, until what began as a truly, madly adulterous affair ended in pathos, as Leigh, worn down by bipolar disorder, depression and tuberculosis, died in 1967. Matt Damsker, USA TODAY, 22 Mar. 2022 I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2020 An unreliable narrator tells a mesmerizing story — involving fateful encounters, hidden agendas, shrouded identities, adulterous betrayals and brushes with death — to an old college acquaintance who also happens to be an unreliable narrator. Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adulterous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


alteration (conformed to Latin adulter "impure, given to adultery") of earlier advouterous, going back to Middle English advouterose, from avowter "given to adultery" (borrowed from Anglo-French avuiltre, avoutre, going back to Latin adulter) + -ous -ous, -ose -ose entry 1 — more at adulterer

First Known Use

1550, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adulterous was in 1550

Dictionary Entries Near adulterous

Cite this Entry

“Adulterous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Legal Definition


adul·​ter·​ous ə-ˈdəl-tə-rəs How to pronounce adulterous (audio)
: relating to, characterized by, or given to adultery
adulterously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on adulterous

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