Modern English, fornication is a term that typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association. Fornication is regarded differently by various religions, societies and cultures. The definition is often disputed. In modern usage, the term is often replaced with the more secular terms premarital sex, sex before marriage or extramarital sex.
The laws on fornication have historically been tied with religion and the legal and political traditions within the particular jurisdiction. Laws differ greatly from country to country. Most Western countries and some secular Muslim countries like Turkey and Azerbaijan have no laws against fornication if both parties are above the age of consent.
In English translations of the Bible, the exact translation of πορνεία (porneia) in the New Testament is not entirely clear; while Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words translates it into English as fornication, it may also have the alternate meaning of sexual immorality. In Biblical Greek, the word porneia meant "sexual immorality" or "sexual perversions." It was often used as a blanket term to encompass all sexual activity outside of marriage and even sexual thoughts (i.e. sexual lust/fantasies) that were considered unrighteous by the Old Testament laws of Leviticus, in particular Leviticus 18, including: incest, bestiality, and "lying with a man as with a woman.. See also Biblical law in Christianity.
It is common belief that the origin of the word derives from Latin. The word fornix means "an archway" or "vault" and it became a common euphemism for a brothel as prostitutes could be solicited in the vaults beneath Rome. More directly, fornicatio means "done in the archway"; thus it originally referred to prostitution.
The first recorded use of the noun in its modern meaning was in 1303 AD, with the verb fornicate first recorded around 250 years later.