noun, plural a·dul·ter·ies.

voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

Origin of adultery

1325–75; Middle English adulterie < Latin adulterium, equivalent to adulter (see adulterer) + -ium -ium; replacing Middle English a(d)vouterie < Old French avoutrie < Latin, with ad- ad- replacing a a-5 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adultery

Contemporary Examples of adultery

Historical Examples of adultery

  • She told me once that it was better to talk about adultery than to commit it!

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • If there are children by this adultery, he will provide for them.

  • She often seeks divorce, even when adultery has not taken place.

  • Like the women in the sack of Ismail, they sit them down and watch for the adultery to begin.

    'Charge It'

    Irving Bacheller

  • Adultery does not of itself entail the dissolution of marriage.


    Frank Fox

British Dictionary definitions for adultery


noun plural -teries

voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man or woman and a partner other than the legal spouse

Word Origin for adultery

C15: adulterie, altered (as if directly from Latin adulterium) from C14 avoutrie, via Old French from Latin adulterium, from adulter, back formation from adulterāre. See adulterate
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for adultery

"voluntary violation of the marriage bed," c.1300, avoutrie, from Old French avouterie (12c.), noun of condition from avoutre, from Latin adulterare "to corrupt" (see adulteration). Modern spelling, with the re-inserted -d-, is from early 15c. (see ad-).

In Middle English, also "sex between husband and wife for recreational purposes; idolatry, perversion, heresy." Classified as single adultery (with an unmarried person) and double adultery (with a married person). Old English word was æwbryce "breach of law(ful marriage)" (cf. German Ehebruch). Adultery Dune in Arizona corresponds to Navajo sei adilehe "adultery sand," where illicit lovers met privately.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper