tur·​pi·​tude | \ˈtər-pə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\

Definition of turpitude 

: inherent baseness : depravity moral turpitude also : a base act

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Did You Know?

Turpitude came to English from Latin by way of Middle French. The Latin word turpitudo comes from "turpis," which means "vile" or "base." The word is often heard in the phrase "moral turpitude," an expression used in law to designate an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community. A criminal offense that involves "moral turpitude" is considered wrong or evil by moral standards, in addition to being the violation of a statute.

Examples of turpitude in a Sentence

pictorial advertisements for chic clothing and fragrances in which drug addiction and other forms of moral turpitude are depicted as alternative fashion statements

Recent Examples on the Web

Broad language allowing stars and distributors to be dropped if accused of misconduct is beginning to be included in negotiations in the wake of he Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey situations Moral turpitude? Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "#MeToo Hits Movie Deals: Studios Race to Add 'Morality Clauses' to Contracts," 7 Feb. 2018 Anyone convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude will not be considered. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Application period nears for new independent Ethics Review Board," 11 Apr. 2018 Clarification to crimes of violence and crimes involving moral turpitude. Jamie Dupree, AJC.com, "New GOP bill on DACA would make extensive changes on other immigration issues," 10 Jan. 2018 Those convicted of crimes of moral turpitude in Alabama automatically lose the right to vote. Jonece Starr Dunigan, AL.com, "22-year-old fatally stabbed during argument in Montgomery," 6 Oct. 2017 Petrino’s moral turpitude should have been overlooked. Eric Bolin, ajc, "Bolin: Yes, Bret Bielema and Jeff Long saved Arkansas football," 13 Sep. 2017 Being difficult to wake up is not a sign of moral turpitude Mallory Ortberg, Slate Magazine, "Prudie advises a letter writer who tried to assist a woman getting into her wheelchair and made her cry.," 24 Apr. 2017 Merrill was instrumental in getting the moral turpitude clarifications passed into law. Connor Sheets, AL.com, "'Restoration clinics' to help felons register to vote under new Alabama law," 11 July 2017 The Mayor may be removed from office after a hearing, for any willful violation of duty, or for the commission of an offense involving moral turpitude, upon written notice from the City Council at least five days before the hearing. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Council member asks Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to consider resigning," 17 July 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for turpitude

Middle French, from Latin turpitudo, from turpis vile, base

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Time Traveler for turpitude

The first known use of turpitude was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of turpitude

: a very evil quality or way of behaving


tur·​pi·​tude | \ˈtər-pə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd \

Legal Definition of turpitude 

: inherent baseness or depravity also : a base act

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Comments on turpitude

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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