venal

adjective
ve·​nal | \ ˈvē-nᵊl How to pronounce venal (audio) \

Definition of venal

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

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Other Words from venal

venality \ vi-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce venality (audio) \ noun
venally \ ˈvē-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce venally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for venal

Synonyms

Antonyms

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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."

Examples of venal in a Sentence

that judge is known for being venal and easily bought
Recent Examples on the Web On Twitter, the repository of all that is supportive and venal about our national cultural discourse, the love poured in along with a few haters and skeptics. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "For University of Chicago’s Jacqueline Stewart, Turner Classic Movies is a teaching moment," 26 Sep. 2019 Victoria, Australia, has also legalized assisted suicide, while the German supreme court conjured a limited legalization, permitting the practice so long as the motive for assisting isn’t venal. Wesley J. Smith, National Review, "Dark Anniversary: The State of Assisted Suicide 25 Years after Measure 16," 19 Nov. 2019 Still, my father-in-law said Castellano was venal and brutal. BostonGlobe.com, "Pacino took the role of Michael Corleone and DeNiro won the part Pacino had ditched.," 5 Nov. 2019 The first page of John Keay’s history, published in 1991, describes its venal reputation. The Economist, "The astonishing and violent rise of the East India Company," 10 Oct. 2019 Katumbi believes that the country has been dismantled by venal politicians. Nicolas Niarchos, The New Yorker, "A Top Leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Political Opposition Returns," 12 Sep. 2019 Not since the Harding administration, and probably the Gilded Age, has the presidency conducted itself in so venal a fashion. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Corruption, Not Russia, Is Trump’s Greatest Political Liability," 1 Apr. 2018 Britons went to India for many reasons, both venal and altruistic. David Gilmour, WSJ, "Five Best: David Gilmour on Memoirs of British India," 22 Feb. 2019 Members of Uribe’s inner circle have been convicted of political crimes ranging from the essentially venal to deeply authoritarian. Steven Cohen, The New Republic, "Why Colombia Keeps Electing Presidents Tied to Murderers," 18 June 2018

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

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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 -al entry 1

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Time Traveler for venal

Time Traveler

The first known use of venal was in 1652

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Venal.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/venal. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for venal

venal

adjective
How to pronounce venal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of venal

formal : willing to do dishonest things in return for money

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More from Merriam-Webster on venal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for venal

Spanish Central: Translation of venal

Nglish: Translation of venal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of venal for Arabic Speakers

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