per·​verse | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈvərs How to pronounce perverse (audio) , ˈpər-ˌvərs \

Definition of perverse

1a : turned away from what is right or good : corrupt
c : contrary to the evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law perverse verdict
2a : obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted : wrongheaded
b : arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinacy
3 : marked by peevishness or petulance : cranky
4 : marked by perversion

Other Words from perverse

perversely adverb
perverseness noun
perversity \ pər-​ˈvər-​sə-​tē How to pronounce perverse (audio) , -​stē \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for perverse

contrary, perverse, restive, balky, wayward mean inclined to resist authority or control. contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice. a contrary child perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal. a perverse, intractable critic restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders. tired soldiers growing restive balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action. a balky witness wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior. a school for wayward youths

Examples of perverse in a Sentence

their perverse cruelty to animals She has a perverse fascination with death. He seems to take perverse pleasure in making things as difficult as possible. His friends all enjoy his perverse sense of humor. Is this some kind of perverse joke?
Recent Examples on the Web The insurance industry, broadly, is built on relatively perverse incentives. Bob Herman, STAT, 14 May 2022 The short answer comes straight from the authoritarian playbook: a perverse reading of history. Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, 10 May 2022 Court records also show that over time, the demands in the hoax calls grew more perverse. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 5 May 2022 The most likely buyer is actually Mr. Povlsen, on behalf of Bestseller or one of his other holdings — which may strike some as perverse. New York Times, 5 May 2022 The Player’s casual cynicism — spoofing moral decay through a double high-concept, feel-good ending — gives its perverse fairy tale a gut punch. Armond White, National Review, 4 May 2022 Though iconically portrayed as a quirky (bordering on perverse) magnate by Gene Wilder, Chalamet stakes his own claim at the iconic brown velvet top hot worn by Wonka. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 26 Apr. 2022 Health care is blind to too many gender differences and a perverse preference for research on male rats, while elder care is under-valued, under-paid and hence under-staffed. Avivah Wittenberg-cox, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 Crypto’s transparency has turned money laundering into a perverse spectator sport. David Uberti, WSJ, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of perverse

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

History and Etymology for perverse

Middle English, from Anglo-French purvers, pervers, from Latin perversus, from past participle of pervertere

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Time Traveler for perverse

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The first known use of perverse was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near perverse

per verba de praesenti



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Statistics for perverse

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Perverse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for perverse


per·​verse | \ pər-ˈvərs How to pronounce perverse (audio) \

Kids Definition of perverse

1 : stubborn in being against what is right or sensible
2 : wrong especially in a way that is strange or offensive


per·​verse | \ pər-ˈvərs How to pronounce perverse (audio) \

Medical Definition of perverse

: being, relating to, or characterized by perversion perverse sexual behavior

More from Merriam-Webster on perverse

Nglish: Translation of perverse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perverse for Arabic Speakers


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