rotten borough


: an election district that has many fewer inhabitants than other election districts with the same voting power

Examples of rotten borough in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The corrupt system meant that some sparsely populated British towns (known as rotten boroughs) had multiple members of Parliament, while bustling industrial centers like Birmingham and Manchester had none. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rotten borough.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1765, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rotten borough was in 1765

Dictionary Entries Near rotten borough

Cite this Entry

“Rotten borough.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on rotten borough

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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