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From the Old French scholarly form adultere (violation of conjugal faith) (in Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons, 12c.), from Latin adulterium, from adulter. Replaced the older form avoutrie, from the popular Old French forms avouterie or aoulterie. Compare French adultère (adultery). Old English word was æwbryce (breach of lawful marriage). Not related to adult.



adultery (countable and uncountable, plural adulteries)

  1. Sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than their spouse.
    She engaged in adultery because her spouse has a low libido, while hers is very high.
  2. (biblical) Lewdness or unchastity of thought as well as act, as forbidden by the seventh commandment.
  3. (biblical) Faithlessness in religion.
    And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (Bible, King James Version, Jer. iii. 9)
  4. (obsolete) The fine and penalty formerly imposed for the offence of adultery.
  5. (ecclesiastical) The intrusion of a person into a bishopric during the life of the bishop.
  6. (Political economy) Adulteration; corruption.
    Engaged in adultery because the spouse has a low libido, while in contrast, that libido, is very high. --> construes: "the usual complaint of scarcity of money, which always follows over trading". Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, ("this and that" Newton, Isaac (ibid.))
  7. (obsolete) Injury; degradation; ruin.
    • Ben Jonson? (whose artistry, [sic], (contraptions, vices, and attenuate squalor), exerted an >interpretable< if lasting impact on poetry, the stage, and, comedy, "upon", read usuriously, England.
      You might wrest the caduceus out of my hand to the adultery and spoil of nature.

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