adult vs adultery

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Senior Member
Hello everybody!

Can someone please explain to me why the words "adult" and "adultery" are so similar? There is obviously a common component/root/origin here, but the meanings are so different...

Thanks a million!
  • Valvs

    Senior Member
    According to Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the similarity between the two is superficial.
    Adult comes from the Latin word adultus, which is the past participle of adolere (to make grow)
    Adultery can be traced back to the Latin verb adulterare (to mix, to adulterate)
    The root of the former verb is -ol, and the root of the latter one is -ulter.


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This similarity is, I think, what is referred to as a "false friendship". The etymology of the two words IS different: ad + alescere is Latin for "to grow up", and the past form is adultus. adulterare is a Latin verb meaning to debauch, corrupt, probably itself derived from ad alterum (-am etc) se conferre meaning "to betake oneself to another".

    At least, so says my Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology.
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