corrupt

1 of 2

verb

cor·​rupt kə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce corrupt (audio)
corrupted; corrupting; corrupts

transitive verb

1
a
: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions
Officials were corrupted by greed.
was accused of corrupting the youth
also : bribe
b
: to degrade with unsound principles or moral values
Some fear the merger will corrupt the competitive marketplace.
2
: rot, spoil
The fruits were transported without being corrupted.
3
: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood
4
: to alter from the original or correct form or version
The file was corrupted.

intransitive verb

1
a
: to become tainted or rotten
leaving the bodies to corrupt on the field
b
: to become morally debased
2
: to cause disintegration or ruin
corrupter noun
or less commonly corruptor
corruptibility noun
corruptible adjective
corruptibly adverb

corrupt

2 of 2

adjective

1
a
: morally degenerate and perverted : depraved
b
: characterized by improper conduct (such as bribery or the selling of favors)
corrupt judges
2
3
: adulterated or debased by change from an original or correct condition
a corrupt version of the text
corruptly adverb
corruptness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for corrupt

Verb

debase, vitiate, deprave, corrupt, debauch, pervert mean to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character.

debase implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity.

commercialism has debased the holiday

vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect.

a foreign policy vitiated by partisanship

deprave implies moral deterioration by evil thoughts or influences.

the claim that society is depraved by pornography

corrupt implies loss of soundness, purity, or integrity.

the belief that bureaucratese corrupts the language

debauch implies a debasing through sensual indulgence.

the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew

pervert implies a twisting or distorting from what is natural or normal.

perverted the original goals of the institute

Adjective

vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct.

vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence.

a vicious gangster

villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic.

a villainous assault

iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness.

an iniquitous system of taxation

nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct.

the nefarious rackets of organized crime

corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations.

city hall was rife with corrupt politicians

degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition.

a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers

Example Sentences

Verb a politician corrupted by greed music that corrupts the morals of children corrupting the country's legal system the corrupting influence of power Their idealism has been corrupted by cynicism. The file has been corrupted and no longer works properly. a corrupted version of the ancient text Adjective The country's justice system is riddled with corrupt judges who accept bribes. corrupt cops who sell drugs the country's corrupt legal system a corrupt version of the text a corrupt computer file that no longer works properly See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Part of how Rafal has been able to corrupt the system is by making Good all about the superficial. Olivia Truffaut-wong, refinery29.com, 20 Oct. 2022 With each exploding missile, mortar, or tank, toxic chemicals and shrapnel corrupt an environment the country has been working hard to safeguard. WIRED, 19 Oct. 2022 The ghosts, depraved and malicious, attempt to corrupt the children, though the narrator never lets on exactly what form their depravity takes. Nell Stevens, The New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2022 Microsoft says it’s planning to fix a bizarre Windows 10 bug that could corrupt a hard drive just by looking at an icon. Tom Warren, The Verge, 15 Jan. 2021 And by the end when all those qualities exist simultaneously, his is a deeply disturbing portrait of absolute power’s ability to corrupt absolutely. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 29 Sep. 2022 In some instances, software developers even allow changes to their code repositories based on Slack messages, potentially allowing an app that sends messages from a user account to alter code and corrupt their software. WIRED, 25 Sep. 2022 Roberts effectively prevented the Trump administration from using the Supreme Court’s authority to launder its bad-faith attempt to corrupt the census for partisan purposes. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 21 July 2022 No American should support election deniers for any position of genuine responsibility where their refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future. NBC News, 21 Aug. 2022
Adjective
For months, election officials have worried that activists convinced that the election system is corrupt and broken would cause significant problems in the midterms. Alexandra Berzon And Ken Bensinger, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Nov. 2022 As a key witness of widespread abuse, pressure is thrown at her from a corrupt system. Callum Mclennan, Variety, 10 Nov. 2022 One side claims to be patriotic; the other argues that, at its core, the American experiment is corrupt. The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Nov. 2022 Two years ago, Trump used that phenomenon to claim his loss to President Joe Biden was corrupt, even though those claims were baseless. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, 9 Nov. 2022 Arizona has seen some of the most divisive debates over election security since the 2020 presidential election, and several candidates on the ballot have campaigned in part on the lies that the last election was corrupt. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, 7 Nov. 2022 Marchant has repeated unsubstantiated election claims and told audiences that elections are corrupt. Gabe Stern, ajc, 27 Oct. 2022 Marchant has repeated unsubstantiated election claims and told audiences that elections are corrupt. Gabe Stern, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Oct. 2022 The Big Lie — the idea that the 2020 election was stolen, that a corrupt election system allowed it, that President Biden wrongly took office and former President Trump belongs in the White House — is on the ballot next month in Nevada. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'corrupt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, from com- + rumpere to break — more at reave

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin corruptus — see corrupt entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of corrupt was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near corrupt

Cite this Entry

“Corrupt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corrupt. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

corrupt 1 of 2

verb

cor·​rupt kə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce corrupt (audio)
1
: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions
especially : to influence a public official improperly
2
3
: to change from the original or correct form or version
corrupt a text
4
: to become debased
corrupter noun
also corruptor

corrupt

2 of 2

adjective

1
: morally corrupted : depraved
2
: characterized by improper conduct
a corrupt government
corruptly adverb
corruptness noun

Legal Definition

corrupt 1 of 2

adjective

cor·​rupt
kə-ˈrəpt
: having an unlawful or evil motive
especially : characterized by improper and usually unlawful conduct intended to secure a benefit for oneself or another (as by taking or giving bribes)
corruptly adjective
corruptness noun

corrupt

2 of 2

transitive verb

1
: to change from good to bad in principles or moral values
corrupting a minor
2
: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood
corruptibility noun
corruptible adjective
corruptibly adverb
corruption noun

More from Merriam-Webster on corrupt

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