1 : capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery
2 : originating in, characterized by, or associated with corrupt bribery
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."
The crusading journalist attempted to fight corruption in government by casting light on venal lawmakers and the special interests that whispered in their ears.
"Kate Winslet gives an amazing performance in Todd Haynes’ Mildred Pierce as a woman who uses her mind, indulges her sexual desires, yet can’t begin to cope with her venal, betraying daughter." -- From a blog post by Caryn James on IndieWire, March 27, 2011
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Word Family Quiz
What English word meaning "to sell" comes from the Latin phrase "venum dare," meaning "to give for sale"? The answer is ...
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