rot·​ten | \ ˈrä-tᵊn How to pronounce rotten (audio) \

Definition of rotten

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having rotted : putrid
2 : morally corrupt
3 : extremely unpleasant or inferior a rotten day a rotten job
4 : very uncomfortable feeling rotten
5 : of very poor quality : lousy, abominable a rotten show what rotten luck



Definition of rotten (Entry 2 of 2)

: to an extreme degree spoiled rotten

Other Words from rotten


rottenly adverb
rottenness \ ˈrä-​tᵊn-​(n)əs How to pronounce rotten (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for rotten

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of rotten in a Sentence

Adjective They did a rotten job. What rotten weather we're having. Adverb Those kids were spoiled rotten by their mother.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But the vessel instead sat on its side in 4 feet of water Wednesday, only smelling of saltwater, rotten food and sweat. Austen Erblat, Sun Sentinel, 11 May 2022 As with tomatoes, the rotten variety has more impact (i.e. stench). Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 In cooler months, a hadrosaur might chaw rotten logs to get their daily fiber—with mushrooms and insects adding a little protein to the mix. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 This burlesque of rotten movies and overwrought acting excuses bad choices and lack of control through the dubious notion that audiences are superior to it all. Armond White, National Review, 22 Apr. 2022 Within moments, everyone on the base smelled rotten apples. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Britain outlawed rotten boroughs in 1832, or 135 years before Disney created Reedy Creek. Michael Hiltzikbusiness Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2022 Plus, all of the materials have been coated with weather-proofing varnish to protect it from getting moldy, faded, or rotten. Samantha Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Apr. 2022 But such calls are way too little and far too late -- the fact this is even up for debate in 2022 reveals the rotten state of the situation. Kehinde Andrews, CNN, 30 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb If underlings are afraid to question authority or the board lack independent voices, a corporate culture can soon turn rotten. Chris Bryant | Bloomberg, Washington Post, 29 Aug. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of rotten


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rotten


Middle English roten, from Old Norse rotinn; akin to Old English rotian to rot

Learn More About rotten

Time Traveler for rotten

Time Traveler

The first known use of rotten was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near rotten



rotten apple

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for rotten

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rotten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for rotten


rot·​ten | \ ˈrä-tᵊn How to pronounce rotten (audio) \

Kids Definition of rotten

1 : having rotted rotten wood
2 : morally bad
3 : of poor quality They did a rotten job.
4 : very unpleasant … being a teenager is pretty rotten—between pimples and worrying about how you smell!— Judy Blume, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

More from Merriam-Webster on rotten

Nglish: Translation of rotten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rotten for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!