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Venery is the pursuit or practice of sexual gratification or indulgence of sexual desires. The term derives from the Medieval Latin word veneria, a word which in turn refers to the Roman goddess of love and sex, Venus.
Venery is an archaic term which has fallen out of favor in recent years. However, it’s where we get the word venereal. While modern medical professionals refer to sexually transmitted infections, these were called venereal diseases in the not too distant past. This term is still widely understood today.
The word venery is typically considered to have two, separate definitions, the sexually related one and alternatively the original definition, the art or act of hunting animals. Yet, perhaps these two terms are not so unrelated at all. Just as a hunter stalks their animal prey, a person seeking sexual gratification may pursue a sexually attractive individual. The feelings of satisfaction that come when a person achieves the sexual gratification they’re seeking may also be similar to those emotions experienced by a hunter who overcomes prey.
We can only guess whether the sexual term venery, which originated around the turn of the 16th century, may have been influenced by the original definition, which came about in the late 13th and early 14th century. The use of the term in bawdy early literature, like “Canterbury Tales,” which was full of double entrendre, may lead credence to this theory. While it might seem that Geoffrey Chaucer’s monk was speaking of a love of hunting when he said he loved venery, the alternative meaning would have injected some humor into this work.