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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 ?
Mama say you ain't supposed to say fornicate 'cause it's a dirty word.
It makes men fornicate with their mothers and their sisters because they don't know what they are doing when they are drunk.
Remember, Hygeia declared: Eat less, drink less, smoke less, fornicate less, avoid excess, exercise prudently - if you don't abide by these rules, you will fall into the hands of my sister Panacea and her physicians
Happy to fornicate with Kate for eight years, but quick to chuck her to t he wolves when he dropped her for several months.
I preferred Heidi would have showed a little bit more class and at least waited until we separated first before deciding to fornicate with the help," the New York Post quoted Seal as telling TMZ just over a week ago, after news of her becoming close to bodyguard Martin Kristen broke.
Speaking to US website TMZ yesterday, Londonborn Seal, 49, said: "While I didn't expect anything better from him, I would have thought Heidi would have shown a little more class and at least wait until we separated before deciding to fornicate with the help.
She could have] at least waited until we separated first before deciding to fornicate with the help, as it were.
All we do round here is hunt and fornicate," one rustic told an awfully nice girl from the Sunday Times.
These books accused Welsh people of going to chapel rather than church because they were looking for an excuse to fornicate rather than gain any form of spiritual enrichment or expression via the medium of their own language.
Don Giovanni, aided by his reluctant servant Leporello (Richard Burkhard), attempts to fornicate his way through Europe, killing a victim's father along the way.
They dash, they fornicate, they kiss, they smear dirt.
No druids were interviewed, and no druid asked for 'somewhere to fornicate, please'.