elopement n : the act of running away with a lover (usually to get married)
- The act of eloping
To elope, most literally, merely means to run away with intention of getting married. More specifically, elopement is often used to refer to a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving hurried flight away from one's place of residence. Recently, the definition of "elope" has been expanded in popular culture to include a marriage which takes place in private, without advance notice, and which comes as a bit of a surprise to the couple's family and friends. In this usage case, there is no negative connotation to the term elopment, rather, the term is simply used to describe a surprise and unannounced wedding.Increasingly, no publicly announced engagement precedes the elopement, therefore renedering the act a true surprise to friends and family.
In England, a legal prerequisite of marriage was the "reading of the banns" — for the three Sundays prior to the intended date of their ceremony, the names of every couple intending marriage had to be read aloud by the priest(s) of their parish(es) of residence. The intention of this was to prevent bigamy or other unlawful marriages by giving fair warning to anybody who might have a legal right to object. In practice, however, it also gave warning to the couples' parents, who sometimes objected on purely personal grounds. To contravene this law, it was necessary to get a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury — or to flee somewhere the law did not apply, across the border to Scotland, for instance.
In the United States marriage law can differ from state to state, which sometimes leads couples to cross state lines to be married. Some states, for example, require blood tests or waiting periods before marriage; a couple wishing to wed quickly (before, usually, their parents could object) might travel to a state without such a rule. In the musical Guys and Dolls, for instance, Lt. Brannigan suggests that Nathan Detroit and Adelaide, his fiancée of fourteen years, elope to Elkton, Maryland, which does not require a blood test. Civil rights have also been at issue— in many states interracial marriage was once illegal, which led to elopements. More recently, the possibility of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts has once again raised the question of whether all states recognize each other's marriages.
Today the term "elopement" is colloquially used for any marriage performed in haste or in secret with no guests; it is even sometimes used for well-attended and elaborately-planned marriages which occur away from home.
elopement in Japanese: 駆け落ち
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