cor·​rup·​tion kə-ˈrəp-shən How to pronounce corruption (audio)
: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) : depravity
: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery)
the corruption of government officials
: a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
the corruption of a text
the corruption of computer files
: decay, decomposition
the corruption of a carcass
chiefly dialectal : pus
archaic : an agency or influence that corrupts

Examples of corruption in a Sentence

There are rumors of widespread corruption in the city government. the mafia's corruption of public officials corruption of the English language computer software that is supposed to prevent the corruption of files the corruption of a text
Recent Examples on the Web Walsh, a giant in American journalism who relished complex investigative stories exposing corruption among public officials and wrongdoing by mob figures, died in his sleep at his Antelope home, five months after the death of Peggy, his wife of 57 years. Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 2 Apr. 2024 Can the sports leagues fend off the sort of corruption that resulted in nationwide bans on sports betting in the past? Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2024 Patel plays Kid, whose quest for vengeance over the death of his mother and the corruption around him imbues him with the power to settle scores — violently. Sara Netzley,, 31 Mar. 2024 Peru has in recent years been rattled by political instability, with president after president brought down by allegations of corruption or political malfeasance. Claudia Rebaza, CNN, 30 Mar. 2024 In 2012, as the extent of that corruption became apparent, Kahneman intervened. Daniel Engber, The Atlantic, 28 Mar. 2024 Even propaganda films that were backed by the police and anticorruption agencies could end up failing the test because crime and corruption reflect dark aspects of the society. Li Yuan, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2024 Perhaps there is a fable of American decline or corruption or incompetence. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024 For the prior five years Blazer had been an undercover operative for the federal government in a sweeping investigation of corruption in college sports. Guy Lawson, Rolling Stone, 24 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'corruption.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see corrupt entry 1

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near corruption

Cite this Entry

“Corruption.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


cor·​rup·​tion kə-ˈrəp-shən How to pronounce corruption (audio)
: physical decay or rotting
: dishonest or evil behavior
: the causing of someone else to do wrong (as by bribery)
: a change from the original or for the worse

More from Merriam-Webster on corruption

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