Adultery Definition

The Century Dictionary, Copyright 1911


1. Violation of the marriage bed; carnal connection of a married person with any other than the lawful spouse; in a more restricted sense, the wrong by a wife which introduces or may introduce a spurious offspring into the family.  In some jurisdictions the law makes adultery a crime, in some only a civil injury.  In England, formerly, it was punished by a fine & imprisonment, and in Scotland it was frequently made a capital offense.  In Great Britain at the present day, it is punishable only by ecclesiastical censure; but when committed by the wife, it is regarded as a civil injury, and forms the ground of an action of damages against the paramour.  Contrary to previous general opinion, it has recently been held in the United States that a wife may have a corresponding action against a woman who seduces away her husband.  In England and Scotland the husband's recovery of damages against the paramour can now be had only by joining him with the wife in an action for divorce.