(redirected from Premarital intercourse)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
Related to Premarital intercourse: fornication


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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is also found that (see Table 3) 53.5% of the males have sexual experience that is close to the acceptance level of premarital intercourse. Therefore, we can conclude that because of the males' low percentage of sexual experience, acceptance of premarital sexual intercourse of males is low in this sample.
We can see that the majority of males oppose premarital intercourse for females.
Measures used to assess sexual initiation were age at first intercourse, (59) age at first premarital intercourse (60) and ever had intercourse.
Whereas the incidence of female premarital intercourse "leveled off in the 1940s and 1950s," Skolnick maintains that premarital sex soared during the 1960s, as "young women abandoned their desperate struggle to remain categorized as virgins." (1) Similarly, in Him/Her/Self, Peter Filene insists that "a 'revolution' in middle-class sexual behavior" did not take place during the 1950s.
The proportion of teens using contraception at first premarital intercourse increased from 53% during the period 1980 through 1982 to 71% during the period 1983 through 1988.
Contraceptive use at first premarital intercourse: United States, 1965-1988.
Evaluations of "abstinence only" programs such as Teen Aid and Sex Respect indicate the programs affected a variety of attitudes about premarital intercourse. In all cases, attitudes became significantly less accepting of premarital intercourse in the short term.
For example, young men who attend religious services regularly are less likely than those who do not attend to engage in premarital intercourse. (7) And the lower a teenager's school grades are, the more likely he or she is to be sexually experienced.