• synonyms


[fawr-ni-key-shuh n]
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  1. voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.
  2. Bible. idolatry.
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Origin of fornication

1300–50; Middle English fornicacioun < Late Latin fornicātiōn- (stem of fornicātiō). See fornicate1, -ion
Related formsfor·ni·ca·to·ry [fawr-ni-kuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈfɔr nɪ kəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjective
Can be confusedformication fornication
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for fornication


  1. voluntary sexual intercourse outside marriage
  2. law voluntary sexual intercourse between two persons of the opposite sex, where one is or both are unmarried
  3. Bible sexual immorality in general, esp adultery
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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 fornication


c.1300, from Old French fornicacion (12c.), from Late Latin fornicationem (nominative fornicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of fornicari "fornicate," from Latin fornix (genitive fornicis) "brothel" (Juvenal, Horace), originally "arch, vaulted chamber" (Roman prostitutes commonly solicited from under the arches of certain buildings), from fornus "oven of arched or domed shape." Strictly, "voluntary sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman;" extended in the Bible to adultery.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fornication in Medicine


  1. Sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other.
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Related formsforni•cate′ v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.