Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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Theological term for contraception. The name is derived from Onan, son of the patriarch Judah. When Judah asked Onan to marry his (Onan's) brother's widow, in order to raise up progeny to his brother, Onan frustrated conception. "What he did was offensive to Yahweh, so He brought about his death also" (Genesis 38:8-10). The more popular terms for onanism are: birth control, contraception, planned parenthood, and Neo-Malthusianism.