Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other.

Under the Common Law, the crime of fornication consisted of unlawful sexual intercourse between an unmarried woman and a man, regardless of his marital status. If the woman was married, the crime was Adultery.

Today, statutes in a number of states declare that fornication is an offense, but such statutes are rarely enforced. On the theory that fornication is a victimless crime, many states do not prosecute persons accused of the offense.

Under modern-day legislation, if one of the two persons who engage in sexual intercourse is married to another person, he (or she) is guilty of adultery. Statutes in some states declare that if the woman is married, the sexual act constitutes adultery on the part of both persons, regardless of the man's marital status.

Fornication is an element of a number of Sex Offenses such as rape, Incest, and seduction.

Although penalties are seldom enforced, they usually consist of a fine, imprisonment, or both. In November of 1996 an Idaho prosecutor brought fornication charges against a teenage couple in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.


n. sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other. This usage comes from Latin fornicari, meaning vaulted, which became the nickname for brothel, because prostitutes operated in a vaulted underground cavern in Rome. Fornication is still a misdemeanor in some states, as is adultery (sexual intercourse by a married person with someone not his/her spouse), but is virtually never prosecuted. If such anachronistic laws were enforced, the jails of America would have no room for robbers, murderers and drug dealers.

References in periodicals archive ?
to perform belly dancing and fornication for money.
Even when marriage becomes evil, between the two evils one must choose the less, fornication and sodomy vis-'-vis marriage what is the way to go?
Sex, sexuality, adultery, fornication and fetishes have become the staple of news, whether from a film star with a mansion or a student in a hall of residence
According to Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:20-23, Jesus spoke of fornication as evil.
The teaching of the Catholic Church about fornication is clear and unambiguous: It is always objectively a serious sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1755, #1852, #2353).
I found his pale body attractive, but his technique was a variation on the theme of painting by numbers - fornication by numbers.
Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation fornication and prostitution, pornography and homosexual practices.
But what social chaos if we regarded that as a marriage rather than as fornication.
Sheldon went on to explain the four causes of cultural disintegration: same-sex relationships, fornication, adultery, and sexual hedonism.
A Royal Commission stated that, unlike women, men committed fornication "as an irregular indulgence of a natural impulse.
It's driving music, fornication music, cleaning music, sporting music, tanning music .
The real object of Franklin's hoax was a law against fornication, which Franklin believed to be unreasonable.