Simple Definition of venal
: willing to do dishonest things in return for money
Full Definition of venal
2 : originating in, characterized by, or associated with corrupt bribery <a venal arrangement with the police>
Examples of venal in a sentence
<that judge is known for being venal and easily bought>
Did You Know?
If you are given the choice between acts that are "venal" and those that are "venial," go for the venial. Although the two words look and sound alike, they have very different meanings and histories. "Venal" demonstrates the adage that anything can be had if the price is high enough and the morals are low enough. That word originated with the Latin venum, which simply referred to something that was sold or for sale. Some of those transactions must have been rather shady, because by the mid-1600s, "venal" had gained the sense of corruption it carries today. "Venial" sins, on the other hand, are pardonable, the kind that show that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. That forgiving term descends from "venia," Latin for favor, "indulgence," or "pardon."
Origin of venal
Latin venalis, from venum (accusative) sale; akin to Greek ōneisthai to buy, Sanskrit vasna price
First Known Use: 1652
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