Word of the Day : January 10, 2019


adjective VEE-nul


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

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."


"We have to prove that our institutions are more important than our ideologies, that the dream, the whisper, the precious possibility of America cannot be trampled by the corrupt and the fraudulent, the venal and the lecherous." — Charles M. Blow, The New York Times, 9 Dec. 2018

"He held combative press conferences outlining … corporate malpractice and passed along to journalists dossiers that described the way venal oligarchs engaged in asset stripping, wasteful spending, and share dilutions." — Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 20 Aug. 2018

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word that refers to bribe money or a large amount of money: b _ _ d _ e.



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