venal

play
adjective ve·nal \ˈvē-nəl\

Definition of venal

  1. 1 :  capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration :  purchasable; especially :  open to corrupt influence and especially bribery :  mercenary a venal legislator

  2. 2 :  originating in, characterized by, or associated with corrupt bribery a venal arrangement with the police

venality

play \vi-ˈna-lə-tē\ noun

venally

play \ˈvē-nəl-ē\ adverb

venal was our Word of the Day on 05/09/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of venal in a sentence

  1. that judge is known for being venal and easily bought

Did You Know?

If you are given the choice between acts that are "venal" and those that are "venial," go for the venial. Although the two words look and sound alike, they have very different meanings and histories. "Venal" demonstrates the adage that anything can be had if the price is high enough and the morals are low enough. That word originated with the Latin venum, which simply referred to something that was sold or for sale. Some of those transactions must have been rather shady, because by the mid-1600s, "venal" had gained the sense of corruption it carries today. "Venial" sins, on the other hand, are pardonable, the kind that show that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. That forgiving term descends from "venia," Latin for favor, "indulgence," or "pardon."

Origin and Etymology of venal

borrowed from Latin vēnālis “that may be bought, for sale,” from *vēnus “sale” (attested only in accusative vēnum and dative vēnō, vēnuī; akin to Greek ônos “price,” Sanskrit vasna- “price, value”) + -ālis 1-al


First Known Use: 1652


VENAL Defined for English Language Learners

venal

play
adjective ve·nal \ˈvē-nəl\

Definition of venal for English Language Learners

  • : willing to do dishonest things in return for money



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

feeling or affected by lethargy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • ludwig-richter-spring-has-arrived
  • Which is a synonym of upbraid?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ