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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Fornication \For`ni*ca"tion\, n. [F. fornication, L. fornicatio.]

  1. Unlawful sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person; the act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman as does not by law amount to adultery.

    Note: In England, the offense, though cognizable in the ecclesiastical courts, was not at common law subject to secular prosecution. In the United States it is indictable in some States at common law, in others only by statute.

  2. (Script.)

    1. Adultery.

    2. Incest.

    3. Idolatry.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1300, from Old French fornicacion "fornication, lewdness; prostitution; idolatry" (12c.), from Late Latin fornicationem (nominative fornicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of fornicari "to fornicate," from Latin fornix (genitive fornicis) "brothel" (Juvenal, Horace), originally "arch, vaulted chamber, a vaulted opening, a covered way," probably an extension, based on appearance, from a source akin to fornus "brick oven of arched or domed shape" (see furnace). Strictly, "voluntary sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman;" extended in the Bible to adultery. The sense extension in Latin is perhaps because Roman prostitutes commonly solicited from under the arches of certain buildings.


n. 1 sexual intercourse, especially on the part of an unmarried person. 2 (context legal English) The act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman which does not by law amount to adultery.

  1. n. voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other

  2. extramarital sex that willfully and maliciously interferes with marriage relations; "adultery is often cited as grounds for divorce" [syn: adultery, criminal conversation]


Fornication is generally consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries an overtone of moral or religious disapproval ( living in sin), but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The definition is often disputed. In modern usage, the term is often replaced with a more judgment-neutral term like extramarital sex.

Usage examples of "fornication".

A new century got under way, and despite the efforts of certain parties, it continued to witness unchecked the sins of godlessness, blasphemy, fornication, homosexuality, miscegenation, pornography and cheesy B-movies.

But the humans had the slidy itch, and the scratchy itch, and the prickly or tingly or titillative paraesthetic fornication.

But there are many other sins which are graver than fornication, especially the sin of unbelief.

Although fornication is not graver than other sins, yet men are more prone to it, owing to fleshly concupiscence.

And mingling with it, incongruously, the sweeter strains of the Sweet Jesus League out on their own shore patrol, singing hymns and warning the men of the dangers of unbridled fornication.

It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions, and cut in two by divorce.

And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

I'm demoting you to field operative on a special away mission—meanwhile, Jezerael will be promoted into your old post as Chief Fallen Angel of Lust and Fornication.

I'm demoting you to field operative on a special away mission—meanwhile, Jezerael will be promoted into your old post as Chief Fallen Angel of Lust and Fornication.

It says that those who turn themselves over to the devil to work his evil ways are “filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Is it not proved by his love of so many vain and hurtful things, which produces gnawing cares, disquiet, griefs, fears, wild joys, quarrels, lawsuits, wars, treasons, angers, hatreds, deceit, flattery, fraud, theft, robbery, perfidy, pride, ambition, envy, murders, parricides, cruelty, ferocity, wickedness, luxury, insolence, impudence, shamelessness, fornications, adulteries, incests, and the numberless uncleannesses and unnatural acts of both sexes, which it is shameful so much as to mention.

When you were drunk or when you committed either fornication or adultery you recognized your own personal fallibility of that so mutable substitute for the apostles' creed, the party line.

I could knock that (guilty of fornication with a barnyard fowl) pile down with my mace!

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

John was imprisoned, and each one of Ha Ha Bum’s fornications was scored upon John’s back with a leather whip.