venal

adjective
ve·​nal | \ˈvē-nᵊl \

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 \ noun
venally \ˈvē-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for venal

Synonyms

bribable, corruptible, dirty, purchasable

Antonyms

incorruptible

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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

While other Cabinet officials have gotten sucked into White House drama or caught in their own venal scandals, Sessions has generally kept his attention on doing his job — even at the cost of his relationship with the president. Dara Lind, Vox, "Jeff Sessions gave Trump the immigration crackdown he wanted," 7 Nov. 2018 The amateur hunters and the independent and commercial hunters aren’t all venal, money-grubbing opportunists. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "A dinosaur obsession leads to stolen fossils and prison time in this new book," 15 Oct. 2018 Some of India’s media have venal inclinations, making them prone to bribery by those who want to use them to get their message across. The Economist, "People in India often despair of their democracy," 31 May 2018 The satire lands on obvious Miami targets — the rich, the shallow, the venal, the felonious, status seekers and zealots of every stripe —and the punches connect with all the subtlety of a storm surge. miamiherald, "Tom Wolfe’s ‘Back to Blood’ revels in excess — just like Miami | Miami Herald," 19 Oct. 2012 Whether this self-interest is venal or foolish is irrelevant. Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic, "The Novel That Asks, ‘What Went Wrong With Mankind?’," 11 May 2018 Portrait of injustice, caste prejudice, and venal politics in contemporary India. $9, 7 Speed members. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "What to do around Louisville this week: Janet Jackson, Santa, speakeasy party & more," 29 Nov. 2017 His success at his new job leads to moral dilemmas and encounters with the company’s venal boss, played by Armie Hammer. Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Boots Riley’s and Daveed Diggs’ Oakland films lead alternative summer list," 27 Apr. 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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Statistics for venal

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for venal

The first known use of venal was in 1652

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More Definitions for venal

venal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of venal

: 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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