adultery

noun adul·tery \ə-ˈdəl-t(ə-)rē\

Definition of adultery

plural

adulteries

  1. :  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

  1. He found out that his wife had committed adultery.

  2. She accused her husband of adultery.

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


First Known Use: 15th century


ADULTERY Defined for English Language Learners

adultery

noun adul·tery \ə-ˈdəl-t(ə-)rē\

Definition of adultery for English Language Learners

  • : sex between a married person and someone who is not that person's wife or husband


Law Dictionary

adultery

noun adul·tery \ə-ˈdəl-tə-rē\

Legal Definition of adultery

  1. :  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


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