adjective per·verse \ (ˌ)pər-ˈvərs , ˈpər-ˌvərs \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of perverse

1 a : 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
2 a : 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






play \pər-ˈvər-sə-tē, -stē\ noun

Examples of perverse in a Sentence

  1. their perverse cruelty to animals

  2. She has a perverse fascination with death.

  3. He seems to take perverse pleasure in making things as difficult as possible.

  4. His friends all enjoy his perverse sense of humor.

  5. Is this some kind of perverse joke?

Recent Examples of perverse from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of perverse

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

PERVERSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of perverse for English Language Learners

  • : wrong or different in a way that others feel is strange or offensive

PERVERSE Defined for Kids


adjective per·verse \ pər-ˈvərs \

Definition of perverse for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


adjective per·verse \ pər-ˈvərs \

medical Definition of perverse

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

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