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

Other Words from suborn

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

Did you know?

Suborn is from Latin 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 meaning 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 (meaning "to furnish") 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 As the links that have bound Russia and Ukraine for centuries slowly snap with every passing year, no wonder Putin is worried and thinks this is his last chance to suborn and subordinate. Tim Judah, The New York Review of Books, 19 Feb. 2022 Prosecutors originally accused Matthew Fletcher, 57, of conspiracy to suborn perjury, obstruct justice and bribe witnesses after obtaining a warrant to listen in on jailhouse phone calls between the attorney and Knight in 2015. Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 2022 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 See More

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.

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 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for suborn


transitive verb
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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