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 venal (audio) \ noun
venally \ ˈvē-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce venal (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 Those regulations might have come in handy, say, 20 years later when Reagan's deregulation mania led to the venal banking practices that both created the housing bubble and burst it, landing the world in the global financial crisis of 2008. Virginia Heffernan Los Angeles Times, Star Tribune, "The metaphors and truths of the Reagan and Mondale eras," 23 Apr. 2021 In his view, an old, exhausted, and increasingly venal Palestinian leadership had succumbed to American and Israeli blandishments and pressure. Pankaj Mishra, The New Yorker, "The Reorientations of Edward Said," 19 Apr. 2021 Its politicians have raced to outdo one another in venal, attention-grabbing rhetoric. Thomas Rogers, The New York Review of Books, "Welcome to Germany," 31 Mar. 2021 But by the late aughts, O’Hare started to get noticed on screen, primarily for playing either venal influence-pushers or doctors delivering unwelcome news. Nate Jones, Vulture, "The 32 Greatest Character Actors Working Today," 21 Nov. 2020 The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been widely viewed as colorful, generally harmless, perhaps venal and not necessarily journalistically productive. New York Times, "The Golden Globes’ Biggest Winner May Be the Group That Hands Them Out," 23 Feb. 2021 Pay is low, graft is rife and hospitals are often run by venal political appointees. The Economist, "Why Balkan doctors head for western Europe," 16 Dec. 2020 Harrison is thoroughly the villain of the piece, always venal and vicious, always untrustworthy and unsympathetic. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Tecumseh and the Prophet’ shines a light on Native American resistance," 14 Dec. 2020 The most powerful senators weren’t those who could galvanize the base with high-minded rhetoric or, alternatively, venal demagoguery. Karl W. Smith Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Biden, like Trump, is a deal maker. Good deal.," 1 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Venal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/venal. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for venal

venal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of venal

formal : willing to do dishonest things in return for money

More from Merriam-Webster on venal

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Nglish: Translation of venal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of venal for Arabic Speakers

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