corrupt

1 of 2

verb

cor·​rupt kə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce corrupt (audio)
corrupted; corrupting; corrupts

transitive verb

1
a
: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions
Officials were corrupted by greed.
was accused of corrupting the youth
also : bribe
b
: to degrade with unsound principles or moral values
Some fear the merger will corrupt the competitive marketplace.
2
: rot, spoil
The fruits were transported without being corrupted.
3
: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood
4
: to alter from the original or correct form or version
The file was corrupted.

intransitive verb

1
a
: to become tainted or rotten
leaving the bodies to corrupt on the field
b
: to become morally debased
2
: to cause disintegration or ruin
corrupter noun
or less commonly corruptor
corruptibility noun
corruptible adjective
corruptibly adverb

corrupt

2 of 2

adjective

1
a
: morally degenerate and perverted : depraved
b
: characterized by improper conduct (such as bribery or the selling of favors)
corrupt judges
2
3
: adulterated or debased by change from an original or correct condition
a corrupt version of the text
corruptly adverb
corruptness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for corrupt

Verb

debase, vitiate, deprave, corrupt, debauch, pervert mean to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character.

debase implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity.

commercialism has debased the holiday

vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect.

a foreign policy vitiated by partisanship

deprave implies moral deterioration by evil thoughts or influences.

the claim that society is depraved by pornography

corrupt implies loss of soundness, purity, or integrity.

the belief that bureaucratese corrupts the language

debauch implies a debasing through sensual indulgence.

the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew

pervert implies a twisting or distorting from what is natural or normal.

perverted the original goals of the institute

Adjective

vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct.

vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence.

a vicious gangster

villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic.

a villainous assault

iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness.

an iniquitous system of taxation

nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct.

the nefarious rackets of organized crime

corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations.

city hall was rife with corrupt politicians

degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition.

a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers

Examples of corrupt in a Sentence

Verb a politician corrupted by greed music that corrupts the morals of children corrupting the country's legal system the corrupting influence of power Their idealism has been corrupted by cynicism. The file has been corrupted and no longer works properly. a corrupted version of the ancient text Adjective The country's justice system is riddled with corrupt judges who accept bribes. corrupt cops who sell drugs the country's corrupt legal system a corrupt version of the text a corrupt computer file that no longer works properly
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Their affair corrupts the royal court’s honor code while Arthur’s illegitimate son, Mordred, conspires for the crown. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 June 2024 Over the course of the movie, Sandler and Barrymore must both overcome their naïveté while also not being corrupted by the cynicism of the real world. Jesse David Fox, Vulture, 16 Mar. 2024
Adjective
The flurry of social media posts from Republicans continue to emphasize accusations that the justice system targets conservatives and Joe Biden is corrupt. Sabine Martin, The Arizona Republic, 11 June 2024 Its… Prisoners of the Caucasus A pernicious mix of heavy-handed rule, corrupt governance, high unemployment, and militant Islam has reignited the Russian North Caucasus. Charles King, Foreign Affairs, 10 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for corrupt 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'corrupt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, from com- + rumpere to break — more at reave

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin corruptus — see corrupt entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of corrupt was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near corrupt

Cite this Entry

“Corrupt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corrupt. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

corrupt

1 of 2 verb
cor·​rupt kə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce corrupt (audio)
1
: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions
especially : to influence a public official improperly
2
3
: to change from the original or correct form or version
corrupt a text
4
: to become debased
corrupter noun
also corruptor

corrupt

2 of 2 adjective
1
: morally corrupted : depraved
2
: characterized by improper conduct
a corrupt government
corruptly adverb
corruptness noun
Etymology

Verb

Middle English corrupten "change from good to bad, corrupt," from Latin corruptus "corrupted," from corrumpere "to corrupt," from cor-, com- "with" and rumpere "to break" — related to abrupt, rupture

Legal Definition

corrupt

1 of 2 adjective
cor·​rupt
kə-ˈrəpt
: having an unlawful or evil motive
especially : characterized by improper and usually unlawful conduct intended to secure a benefit for oneself or another (as by taking or giving bribes)
corruptly adjective
corruptness noun

corrupt

2 of 2 transitive verb
1
: to change from good to bad in principles or moral values
corrupting a minor
2
: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood
corruptibility noun
corruptible adjective
corruptibly adverb
corruption noun

More from Merriam-Webster on corrupt

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