Carnal knowledge

Carnal knowledge is an archaic or legal euphemism for sexual intercourse. Carnal Knowledge is also the name of several books, films and television shows; a well-known example is the 1971 movie Carnal Knowledge starring Jack Nicholson.

The word "carnal" derives from latin carnalis, meaning "fleshly", and the word "knowledge" in this phrase derives from the "Biblical sense" of "to know", which means "to have sexual intercourse with".

In criminology, the phrase has had different meanings at different times and in different jurisdictions. While commonly a mere euphemism for sexual intercourse (not necessarily unlawful), different jurisdictions may define carnal knowledge as a specific sex act such as contact between a penis and vagina, some laws elaborating this to include even "slight penile penetration of female genitalia". The definition sometimes includes a set of sex acts that include anal sex and/or oral sex, while some statutes specifically exclude such acts. The law may specify that the sex act must result in ejaculation, and/or orgasm. Carnal knowledge has also sometimes meant sexual intercourse outside of marriage, and sometimes refers to sex with someone under the age of consent. The phrase is often found in this sense in modern legal usage, being equivalent to Statutory rape in some jurisdictions, as the term "rape" implies lack of consent, and consent is considered irrelevant to such cases.

False etymology of "fuck"

The phrase occurs in numerous false etymologies where the word "fuck" is purported to derive from an acronym such as Felonious Unlawful Carnal Knowledge or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (the title of a Van Halen album). Jesse Sheidlower, in his 1999 book The F-Word, says that these false etymologies only began to appear in the 1960s, whereas the word itself is much older.


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