An adulterer is necessarily a man?

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Nawee

Senior Member
Thai
Hello,

I looked up the word "adulterer" on a dictionary. It said "a person who commits adultery". When I looked up "adulteress", I found "a woman who commits adultery". So in theory, an "adulterer" can be both a man and a woman, right? I'd like to know if, in real conversations, is it used to refer to both a man and a woman?

Thank you.

N.
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hello,

    I looked up the word "adulterer" on a dictionary. It said "a person who commits adultery". When I looked up "adulteress", I found "a woman who commits adultery". So in theory, an "adulterer" can be both a man and a woman, right? I'd like to know if, in real conversations, is it used to refer to both a man and a woman?

    Thank you.

    N.
    Yes, you are correct. Increasingly we are dropping the "-ess" suffix to mark a feminine form of anything these days. Other examples are actress, stewardess, hostess. They are all going out of fashion in favour of using a single word that covers men and women.
     

    Nawee

    Senior Member
    Thai
    A follow-up question: does the term "adulterer" refers to both the married individual who is having an affair and the person s/he is having an affair with?

    Thank you.

    N.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    It really takes two. Both parties are doing harm by adulterating the marriage, and providing cause for the spouse to feel angry with and/or lose trust in them both. If adultery is wrong, it is wrong for anyone to knowingly participate in it.

    On the other hand, if one spouse does not know the other spouse's twin is masquerading as the other spouse, or a partner of the unmarried twin is fooled by the married twin, would the term "adulterer" fit either unknowing party?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Modern interpretation of adultery has it that if a man or a woman has sex outside of their marriage then they are adulterers or adulteresses. Sex between unmarried men and women was not adultery. But that was not always the case.

    If you consult Webster's Second International Dictionary (I did), which was published in 1934 they specify that adultery was when a woman had sex outside of marriage. It refers back to the original Hebraic definition.

    Of course in the Webster's Third International Dictionary, which was published in 1961 gives the modern definition which has it that when a man or woman had sex outside of marriage.

    Here is a summary of Hebraic Law on adultery:

    ADULTERY - JewishEncyclopedia.com

    Sexual intercourse of a married woman with any man other than her husband. The crime can be committed only by and with a married woman; for the unlawful intercourse of a married man with an unmarried woman is not technically Adultery in the Jewish law.

    Adultery | Jewish Virtual Library

    The extramarital intercourse of a married man is not per se a crime in biblical or later Jewish law. This distinction stems from the economic aspect of Israelite marriage: the wife was the husband's possession, and adultery constituted a violation of the husband's exclusive right to her; the wife, as the husband's possession, had no such right to him.
     
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