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[per-vurs] /pərˈvɜrs/
willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.
characterized by or proceeding from such a determination or disposition:
a perverse mood.
wayward or cantankerous.
persistent or obstinate in what is wrong.
turned away from or rejecting what is right, good, or proper; wicked or corrupt.
Origin of perverse
1325-75; Middle English < Latin perversus facing the wrong way, askew, orig. past participle of pervertere. See pervert
Related forms
perversely, adverb
perverseness, noun
nonperverse, adjective
nonperversely, adverb
nonperverseness, noun
unperverse, adjective
unperversely, adverb
1. contumacious, disobedient. 4. stubborn, headstrong. See willful. 5. evil, bad, sinful.
1. agreeable. 4. tractable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for perverse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Imp of the perverse must have chuckled at the situation.

  • perverse Doctrine is of the very same, which gaineth Countries by little and little, as a Canker doth in the whole body.

  • perverse and irreverent persons even dared to affirm, to the great indignation of Señor Vicente, that the whole story was a lie.

    Luna Benamor Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • perverse and fantastic as is the plan of his poem, none of his works is richer in beauties of detail.

    The Age of Dryden Richard Garnett
  • perverse and irreverent persons even dared to affirm, to the great indignation of Seor Vicente, that the whole story was a lie.

    The Last Lion and Other Tales Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • perverse poets angle along the black stream: their hollow skulls serve as boxes for worms.

    The Book of Masks Remy de Gourmont
  • perverse lads, indeed, generally kick over the traces at an earlier point: and refuse to learn anything.

    Hours in a Library Leslie Stephen
  • His reason prompted him to listen, but the Imp of the perverse laughed reason to scorn.

    The Dreamer

    Mary Newton Stanard
  • Her eyes flashing fire, and her voice sharpening to a scream, 'perverse ungrateful wretch!'

    Self-control Mary Brunton
British Dictionary definitions for perverse


deliberately deviating from what is regarded as normal, good, or proper
persistently holding to what is wrong
wayward or contrary; obstinate; cantankerous
(archaic) perverted
Derived Forms
perversely, adverb
perverseness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pervers, from Latin perversus turned the wrong way
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perverse

mid-14c., "wicked," from Old French pervers "unnatural, degenerate; perverse, contrary" (12c.) and directly from Latin perversus "turned away, contrary, askew," figuratively, "turned away from what is right, wrong, malicious, spiteful," past participle of pervertere "to corrupt" (see pervert (v.)). The Latin word is glossed in Old English by forcerred, from past participle of forcyrran "to avoid," from cierran "to turn, return." Meaning "wrong, not in accord with what is accepted" is from 1560s; sense of "obstinate, stubborn" is from 1570s. It keeps the non-sexual senses of pervert (v.) and allows the psychological ones to go with perverted. Related: Perversely; perverseness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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