Definition of adulterine in US English:



  • 1(of a child) born as the result of an adulterous relationship.

    • ‘Penumbra's special correspondent investigates the secrets of life and of adulterine children, using DNA fingerprinting.’
    • ‘In any event, the adulterine child could not be reproached with events which were not his fault.’
    • ‘An adulterine child born after the termination of the step parent relationship may qualify as a step child.’
    • ‘The restriction of adulterine children's inheritance rights is the subject of much criticism.’
    • ‘Since it omitted adulterine bastardy, and required a subsequent marriage, this law had quite limited effects.’
    1. 1.1historical, archaic Illegal, unlicensed, or spurious.
      ‘an adulterine castle’
      • ‘This was found on a hearth contemporary with Rampart 4, which constitutes the final heightening of the rampart of the Iron Age hill-fort and its defence by timber structures, perhaps as an adulterine castle in the civil wars of Stephen's reign.’
      • ‘When he had taken these two adulterine castles and given back to the monastery of St. John the domains that had been seized, he returned to the city of Amiens and laid siege to a tower of that city.’
      • ‘Of the four, the Prince is the first to detect the flaw; and though he wanted no part of the actual bowl, he himself slips easily into that adulterine situation which is the flaw in their lives.’
      • ‘Of the adulterine castles characteristic of the anarchy of Stephen's reign, hardly one can be identified with certainty to-day - it may be, indeed, that earthworks commonly thought to be British are relics of these very castles.’
      born out of wedlock, born of unmarried parents
      View synonyms


Mid 18th century (in the sense ‘due to adulteration’): from Latin adulterinus, from adulterare ‘debauch, corrupt’.