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 At the sentencing, the judge called Vicki the evil mastermind of a perverse and horrendous crime. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, 10 Apr. 2022 Attorney General Janet Reno’s refusal to allow a Florida family court to decide the case was legally perverse and typical of her tendency to overthink simple problems. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 Political language is radicalized, elite polarization is toxic, political tribes are firm, the distribution of state resources is perverse, and democratic institutions are subverted. Zsuzsanna Szelényi, The New Republic, 5 Apr. 2022 Requiring prepayment protects this plan against future capital-gains changes and minimizes perverse incentives. Jason Furman, WSJ, 28 Mar. 2022 That the American people are being subjected to such dishonesty is deeply perverse. Benjamin Zycher, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 While intentions may be good, the impact of such rules are perverse making things worse for everyone in the long run. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Jan. 2022 His responses to the collections could be perverse, and his was often the dissenting opinion. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 19 Jan. 2022 But the incentives to create dynasty trusts are more perverse than most. Howard Gleckman, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 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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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Perverse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 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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