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

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Other Words from perverse

perversely adverb
perverseness noun
perversity \ pər-​ˈvər-​sə-​tē How to pronounce perversity (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?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Worse, Sanders’s plan creates permanent perverse incentives for young Americans to take on even more debt. The Editors, National Review, "Bernie’s Daft Debt Jubilee," 25 June 2019 After that, there is competition, with perverse incentives: whoever has the most heartrending story wins. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "The Perverse Logic of GoFundMe Health Care," 24 June 2019 Even in standard rep, productions tend to be quite creative -- sometimes brilliant, sometimes perverse, sometimes some mix thereof. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Coming-of-age story packs an emotional wallop with its premiere at opera festival," 18 June 2019 Even more significant is her denial—the unacknowledged bedrock of Pornography—that women, like anyone else, can be perverse. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Fighting for Her Life," 17 June 2019 His final act of resistance may be no more than the fulfillment of his own perverse fantasy. Becca Rothfeld, The New Republic, "J.G. Ballard’s Eerily Accurate Dystopias," 14 Mar. 2018 Instead, in Carroll’s case, a perverse kind of paradox has set in: The sheer number of women who have accused the president of misconduct seems to have helped to diminish the impact of her accusation. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Cruel Paradox at the Heart of E. Jean Carroll’s Allegation Against Trump," 24 June 2019 Critics had called for removal of the statue for more than two decades, castigating it as a perverse celebration of the subjugation of indigenous people at the hands of European settlers. Dominic Fracassa,, "Judge quashes attempt to bring back controversial SF statue," 13 June 2019 In 1865, Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and embarked on a perverse campaign to roll back the Union’s achievements during the Civil War. Michael O’donnell, WSJ, "‘The Impeachers’ Review: No One Said It Would Be Easy," 17 May 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for perverse

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perverse

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

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More Definitions for perverse



English Language Learners Definition of perverse

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


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on perverse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perverse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perverse

Spanish Central: Translation of perverse

Nglish: Translation of perverse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perverse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on perverse

What made you want to look up perverse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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