sub·​orn | \ sə-ˈbȯrn How to pronounce suborn (audio) \
suborned; suborning; suborns

Definition of suborn

transitive verb

1 : to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing
2 : to induce to commit perjury also : to obtain (perjured testimony) from a witness

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Other Words from suborn

subornation \ ˌsə-​ˌbȯr-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce suborn (audio) \ noun
suborner noun

Did you know?

The Latin word that gave us suborn in the early part of the 16th century is subornare, which translates literally as "to secretly furnish or equip." The sub- that brings the "secretly" meaning to subornare more commonly means "under" or "below," but it has its stealthy denotation in the etymologies of several other English words, including surreptitious (from sub- and rapere, meaning "to seize") and the verb suspect (from sub- or sus- and specere, meaning "to look at"). The ornare of subornare is also at work in the words ornate, adorn, and ornament.

Examples of suborn in a Sentence

He's accused of suborning a witness.
Recent Examples on the Web Brindley also made national legal headlines for beating his own indictment for suborning perjury in 2015. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 19 Feb. 2020 Combined with countries that have only limited enforcement, 51.9% of global exports come from countries that allow their companies to suborn foreign officials. Tom Saler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 Feb. 2020 And, moreover, there was now evidence of a pressure campaign that looked a lot like an attempt to suborn perjury. David French, National Review, 17 Sep. 2019 Russia and separatist Ukraine are not the Soviet Union, but justice is still suborned to theatre, and facts to interests. The Economist, 25 July 2019 That made Facebook allegedly complicit in suborning the democratic process in both countries, which surely warrants a stringent regulatory response. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2019 Another possibility, though, is that Rosenstein knows Trump is in fact being investigated for one or more of the categories of behavior that Barr admits would be obstruction — such as suborning false testimony or withholding evidence. Andrew Prokop, Vox, 20 Dec. 2018 But the actions those presidents were accused of — like witness tampering or suborning perjury — were not an exercise of their official powers as president. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 4 June 2018 Imagine a president willing and able to suborn criminality on his behalf. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suborn.' 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 suborn

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for suborn

Middle French suborner, from Latin subornare, from sub- secretly + ornare to furnish, equip — more at ornate

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Cite this Entry

“Suborn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for suborn



English Language Learners Definition of suborn

: to persuade (someone) to do something illegal (such as to lie in a court of law)
: to get (false testimony) from a witness
sub·​orn | \ sə-ˈbȯrn How to pronounce suborn (audio) \

Legal Definition of suborn

1 : to induce or procure to commit an unlawful act and especially perjury an attempt to suborn a witness
2 : to induce (perjury) or obtain (perjured testimony) from a witness an attorney and his client were jointly charged with suborning perjury and perjury, respectively— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

Other Words from suborn

suborner noun

History and Etymology for suborn

Latin subornare, from sub- secretly + ornare to prepare, equip


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