A cuckold is a married man whose wife has sex with other men. In current usage it sometimes refers to non-married couples in committed relationships as well, although the traditional meaning is a man whose wife is adulterous.
History of the term Cuckold
"Cuckold" is derived from the Old French for the Cuckoo bird, "Cocu" with the pejorative suffix -ald. The earliest written use of the Middle English derivation, “cokewold” occurs in 1250. The females of certain varieties of Cuckoo lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, freeing themselves from the need to nurture the eggs to hatching. In medieval Europe, the law, custom, and the church all defined married women as a category of property held by their husbands. Although Christian marriage vows strictly enjoined sexual exclusivity in a marriage for both partners, custom rarely enforced it on the husband (although Catholic doctrine holds infidelity by either party to be a mortal sin).
A nuance of the word often overlooked in contemporary usage is that it refers to a man who, like the bird warming the cuckoo’s eggs, is unaware of his victimization. A man who knows and acquiesced, in his wife’s taking of another lover was called a wittol, itself a derivation from the Middle English for "witting (as in knowing) cuckold."
The wife who enjoys cuckoldry is sometimes referred to as a hotwife or cuckoldress. In a broader context, the contrast between a cuckold and the additional male participant is sometimes used to summarize an individual's personality or behavior and the variability commonly seen in male libidos; the cuckold or beta male suggesting a lack of virility or smaller phallus and the additional male participant or alpha male representing virility, potency, a larger phallus, fertility, masculinity, strength and a sense of confidence in the ease with which he may sexually possess another man's wife.
Popularity of cuckolding
Cuckolding has grown in recent years to quite a large subculture with many websites and message boards such as Adult FriendFinder.com
on the subject.
Cuckolding as a dominant voyeuristic act
While the word origin and most historic accounts define the cuckolds husband as being submissive, powerless and/or in need of humiliation to receive stimulation, contemporary practice suggests the possibility of something altogether different. Rather than passively acceding to the infidelity and desires of an errant wife, this cuckold is more in keeping with the male partners defined in polyamorous, open, or swinging relationships.
In this manifestation, the cuckold is a consummate voyeur who derives great pleasure from seeing his wife or partner being pleasured and serviced by another male(s). Although he assumes a submissive role and will often assist during the course of the sex act, the "cuckold husband" may actually be the controlling, dominant party in the relationship. He may invite, encourage, and initiate consideration of the practice with his partner, and may be the one to make arrangements and approve how, when and with whom his wife may have the intended encounter.
Often, the excitement of the encounter with third parties is followed by more adult sex play between the relationship partners. The encounter becomes an aphrodisiac, helping to initiate and enhance further sex play between them, as visions of the encounter are revisited and replayed during subsequent love making sessions. It is quite common among couples that swing. Many start out in the swinging life style and branch out into the cuckold lifestyle. As they find that the male partner much prefers to share his mate with others rather than have intercourse with other females.