A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.
Son of Judah and Shua. When Onan's brother, Er, died, Judah ordered Onan to marry the widow, Tamar, and produce a son who would be Er's child, according to the levirate law (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). Onan married her but frustrated the law by withdrawal during intercourse. In punishment, Yahweh caused Onan's death (Genesis 38:8-10). In modern usage, onanism is variously used to mean contraception or masturbation. (Etym. Hebrew Onan.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.