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[veen-l] /ˈvin l/
willing to sell one's influence, especially in return for a bribe; open to bribery; mercenary:
a venal judge.
able to be purchased, as by a bribe:
venal acquittals.
associated with or characterized by bribery:
a venal administration; venal agreements.
Origin of venal
1645-55; < Latin vēnālis, equivalent to vēn(um) (accusative) for sale (cf. vend) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
venally, adverb
nonvenal, adjective
nonvenally, adverb
unvenal, adjective
Can be confused
venal, venial.
1. bribable, corruptible.
1. incorruptible.
Synonym Study
1. See corrupt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for venal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The fate of the children of venal concubines is generally very sad.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • They were so venal, too, that they aided the enemy rather than us by their movements.

  • And the venal English press which conceals the fact, what shall be said of it?

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • This man was the Tweed of Mexico, and one of the most venal officials ever trusted by the people.

    Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou
  • Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;— I wished the man a dinner, and sat still.

    Essay on Man Alexander Pope
British Dictionary definitions for venal


easily bribed or corrupted; mercenary: a venal magistrate
characterized by corruption: a venal civilization
open to purchase, esp by bribery: a venal contract
Derived Forms
venality (viːˈnælɪtɪ) noun
venally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin vēnālis, from vēnum sale
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 venal

1650s, "offered for sale, capable of being obtained for a price," from French vénal, from Latin venalis "that is for sale," from venum (nominative *venus) "for sale," from PIE root *wes- "to buy, sell" (cf. Sanskrit vasnah "purchase money," vasnam "reward," vasnayati "he bargains, haggles;" Greek onos "price paid, purchase," oneisthai "to buy").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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