Definition of adultery
: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also : an act of adultery
Examples of adultery in a Sentence
He found out that his wife had committed adultery.
She accused her husband of adultery.
Recent Examples of adultery from the Web
In 1536, England’s King Henry VIII married his third wife, Jane Seymour, 11 days after the king’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded for treason and adultery.
Under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, adultery is a crime.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adultery'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
What’s the difference between adultery and fornication?
In case you were wondering, the words adultery and adult are not etymologically related (in other words, adultery didn’t grow out of adult in the way that punditry grew out of pundit). Although both words come from Latin and share the same first five letters, adultery is from adulterāre (“to pollute, defile, commit adultery”), a word formed ultimately from the Latin elements ad- “to, near” and alter “other.” English adult comes from adultus, which is the past participle of the Latin word adolescere (“to grow up”).
In legal use there is a difference between adultery and fornication. Adultery is only used when at least one of the parties involved (either male or female) is married, whereas fornication may be used to describe two people who are unmarried (to each other or anyone else) engaging in consensual sexual intercourse.
Origin and Etymology of adultery
Middle English, alteration of avoutrie, from Anglo-French avulterie, from Latin adulterium, from adulter adulterer, back-formation from adulterare —see 1adulterate
First Known Use: 15th century
ADULTERY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of adultery for English Language Learners
: sex between a married person and someone who is not that person's wife or husband
Legal Definition of adultery
: voluntary sexual activity (as sexual intercourse) between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also : the crime of adultery — compare fornication
adulterer\ə-ˈdəl-tə-rər\ play noun
adulteress\-tə-rəs\ play noun
Seen and Heard
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