money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, especially in that person's performance as an athlete, public official, etc.: The motorist offered the arresting officer a bribe to let him go.
anything given or serving to persuade or induce: The children were given candy as a bribe to be good.

verb (used with object), bribed, brib·ing.

to give or promise a bribe to: They bribed the reporter to forget about what he had seen.
to influence or corrupt by a bribe: The judge was too honest to be bribed.

verb (used without object), bribed, brib·ing.

to give a bribe; practice bribery.

Origin of bribe

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French: remnant of food given as alms, said to be < an expressive base *bri(m)b- denoting something small
Related formsbrib·a·ble, bribe·a·ble, adjectivebrib·a·bil·i·ty, bribe·a·bil·i·ty, nounbrib·ee, nounbrib·er, nounout·bribe, verb (used with object), out·bribed, out·brib·ing.un·brib·a·ble, adjectiveun·brib·a·bly, adverbun·bribed, adjectiveun·brib·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bribe

Contemporary Examples of bribe

Historical Examples of bribe

  • Would a Sunday-school picnic constitute a bribe worth mentioning?

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • "Maybe you could bribe Jim Wakely into giving something away," she suggested.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • No bribe—and he was shameless in his offers—could wring more than that from her.

  • Then I tried to bribe them, and they ordered me out of the room.'

  • You, with the impudence of your class, think you can come to me and bribe me to betray my employer.

British Dictionary definitions for bribe



to promise, offer, or give something, usually money, to (a person) to procure services or gain influence, esp illegally


a reward, such as money or favour, given or offered for this purpose
any persuasion or lure
a length of flawed or damaged cloth removed from the main piece
Derived Formsbribable or bribeable, adjectivebriber, noun

Word Origin for bribe

C14: from Old French briber to beg, of obscure origin
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

Word Origin and History for bribe

late 14c., "thing stolen," from Old French bribe "bit, piece, hunk; morsel of bread given to beggars" (14c., cf. Old French bribeor "vagrant, beggar"), from briber, brimber "to beg," a general Romanic word (Gamillscheg marks it as Rotwelsch, i.e. "thieves' jargon"), of uncertain origin; old sources suggest Celtic (cf. Breton breva "to break"). Shift of meaning to "gift given to influence corruptly" is by mid-15c.


late 14c., "pilfer, steal," also "practice extortion," from Old French briber "go begging," from bribe (see bribe (n.)). Related: Bribed; bribing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper