intercourse

by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©2009 by Paul  Niquettte.  All rights reserved.
 

intercourse  n. 1. Communication between individuals. 2. The act of sexual procreation between a man and a woman; the man's penis is inserted into the woman's vagina and excited until orgasm and ejaculation occur.

Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong. 
-- Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr (1779 1820)
Do I really have to explain why I don't use this word?  All right I will. 

Foremost, for Sense 1, there are plenty of synonyms: association, collaboration, communion, connection, contact, consortium, conversation, correspondence, dealing, exchange, interaction, interchange, intercommunication, networking, relationship, trade, traffic, transactions.  Each affords distinctive meanings; each obviates the distractions of Sense 2. 

If Commodore Decatur had chosen any one of them, the solemn phrase, "may she always be in the right," might not be so commonly overlooked in favor of "our country right or wrong," which seems to advocate mindless exceptionalism.
Whereas, according to Online Etymology Dictionary, Sense 2 sexual relations was first recorded in 1798, the 1828 edition of Websters makes no mention of coitus but offers an extravagant definition for Sense 1...
"Communication; commerce; connection by reciprocal dealings between persons or nations, either in common affairs and civilities, in trade, or correspondence by letters. We have an intercourse with neighbors and friends in mutual visits and in social concerns; nations and individuals have intercourse with foreign nations or individuals by an interchange of commodities, by purchase and sale, by treaties, contracts, &c."
The most explicit definition for Sense 2 might well be the one that appears in the Cambridge Dictionary of American English, which makes no mention of procreation...
"The sexual activity in which the male's penis enters the female's vagina, or the sexual activity in which a male's penis enters another male's or a female's anus."
My preference, if anybody wants to know, is the word intromission, generally preceeded by the word 'gain' when referring to males and 'grant' when referring to females.
 
101 Words
Table of Contents
Top of Article