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Definition of fornication


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for·ni·ca·tion  audio  (fôrn-kshn) KEY 

NOUN:
Sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other.


WORD HISTORY:
The word fornication had a lowly beginning suitable to what has long been the low moral status of the act to which it refers. The Latin word fornix, from which fornicti, the ancestor of fornication, is derived, meant "a vault, an arch." The term also referred to a vaulted cellar or similar place where prostitutes plied their trade. This sense of fornix in Late Latin yielded the verb fornicr, "to commit fornication," from which is derived fornicti, "whoredom, fornication." Our word is first recorded in Middle English about 1303.


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