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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).



adultery (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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bible, Jer. iii. 9 to this entry?) And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (King James Version)
  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. (obsolete) adulteration; corruption
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)
  7. (obsolete) injury; degradation; ruin
    • Ben Jonson
      You might wrest the caduceus out of my hand to the adultery and spoil of nature.

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