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

Example Sentences

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 Kansas had imposed the suspension on Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout from a pending NCAA infractions case tied to the federal investigation into corruption within the sport. San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Nov. 2022 In the 1960s and 70s, corruption was a problem in the police force, and led to a large-scale investigation into police activity. Annabelle Timsit, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2022 Thai police officers on the take, seeking to cover up their corruption? Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 22 Nov. 2022 Despite operating in a business climate beset by inefficiency, bureaucracy and corruption, Ilim developed into a cash cow. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2022 What those productions share is an intense examination of the moral corruption that accompanies the acquisition and maintenance of power, wealth, and influence. Jon Michaud, The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2022 This, together with corruption in UMNO, has benefited Muhyiddin’s bloc. Eileen Ng, ajc, 21 Nov. 2022 However, the momentum was blunted by a corruption investigation into Carey’s 1996 election, which, despite his eventual vindication from the charges, ousted him from the union. Teddy Ostrow, The New Republic, 21 Nov. 2022 In interviews, young voters said that the economy and government corruption were among their top concerns. Matt Stevens,, 20 Nov. 2022 See More

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

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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