[ sod-uh-mee ]

  1. anal sex, especially between men.

  2. Law. any sexual contact other than heterosexual vaginal intercourse.

  1. any sexual contact that is stigmatized as unnatural or immoral.

  1. Law. of or relating to any sexual contact other than heterosexual vaginal intercourse.

Origin of sodomy

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English sodomie, from Old French; see Sodom, -y3

word story For sodomy

The term sodomy comes from the Latin phrase peccatum Sodomiticum, “the sin of Sodom,” and frequently meant anal sex between men, referencing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. However, the term sodomy has also often been used in laws criminalizing any kind of sexual contact that was seen as unnatural. In practice, this could mean any kind of sex that was not procreative, including oral sex and anal sex between a heterosexual couple, any kind of sex between two people of the same gender, and sex with non-human animals (sometimes called bestiality ).
In more recent legal use, sodomy laws usually criminalized oral and anal sex. These laws were often used to target homosexual sexual expression of all kinds, serving as tools for discrimination against nonheterosexual, noncisgender people. The landmark 2003 Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional in the United States.

Other words from sodomy

  • sod·o·mit·i·cal [sod-uh-mit-i-kuhl], /ˌsɒd əˈmɪt ɪ kəl/, sod·o·mit·ic, adjective
  • sod·o·mit·i·cal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby sodomy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sodomy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sodomy


/ (ˈsɒdəmɪ) /

  1. anal intercourse committed by a man with another man or a woman: Compare buggery

Origin of sodomy

C13: via Old French sodomie from Latin (Vulgate) Sodoma Sodom

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

Cultural definitions for sodomy


[ (sod-uh-mee) ]

Sexual intercourse that is not the union of the genital organs of a man and a woman. The term is most frequently applied to anal intercourse between two men or to sexual relations between people and animals. (See pederast.)

Notes for sodomy

According to the Bible (see also Bible), God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for unacceptable sexual practices, apparently including anal intercourse between men. Sodomy takes its name from the city of Sodom.

Notes for sodomy

Many governments have laws against sodomy. These laws are difficult to enforce, however, and many people believe they violate personal privacy.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.