[ kuh-ruhpt ]
/ kəˈrʌpt /
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See synonyms for: corrupt / corrupted / corrupting / corruptive on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to become corrupt.
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Origin of corrupt

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English verb from Latin corruptus “rotten, decayed, corrupted” (past participle of corrumpere ), equivalent to cor- intensive prefix + rup- (variant stem of rumpere “to break”) + -tus past participle suffix; see cor-

synonym study for corrupt

1. Corrupt, dishonest, venal apply to a person, especially in public office, who acts on mercenary motives, without regard to honor, right, or justice. A corrupt politician is one originally honest who has succumbed to temptation and begun questionable practices. A dishonest politician is one lacking native integrity. A venal politician is one so totally debased as to sell patronage.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does corrupt mean?

Corrupt is commonly used as an adjective to describe members of organizations or institutions who engage in illegal or otherwise dishonest practices to benefit themselves. It can also be used in this way to describe their actions or institutions that have a lot of this activity.

Corrupt can also be used as verb meaning to destroy the integrity of someone or something or cause someone to be dishonest.

The state of being corrupt is corruption. Both terms are most often used in the context of such rulebreaking by people who are powerful or who are responsible for the well-being of others, such as politicians, government officials, and police officers.

More generally, corrupt can be used as an adjective that means depraved, debased, or having been made worse in some way. It can also be used as a verb meaning to make someone or something depraved, debased, or worse in some way.

More specifically, corrupt can mean to alter a word or text in a way that deviates from its original or intended form.

Example: This isn’t just one or two corrupt officials. The whole organization is corrupt—bribes and kickbacks are their normal way of doing business.

Where does corrupt come from?

The first records of the word corrupt come from the 1200s. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb corrumpere, meaning “to ruin” (or literally “to break to pieces”), from the verb rumpere, “to break.”

People described as corrupt are usually those who are supposed to be upholding the rules but instead break the rules to benefit themselves—typically to get richer or more powerful. The word is most commonly used to describe crooked officials in the government or other organizations and their shady dealings (as opposed to ordinary citizens). Perhaps the most common and well-known example of corruption is bribery, and in fact corruption can be used as a synonym of bribery.

When people say a person has been corrupted, it usually involves a debasing of their values or morality (at least in the judgment of the person using the word). Language and words are corrupted all the time as words evolve and get introduced into other languages. This sense of the word is less negative than others. In the context of software, data or files can get corrupted due to various errors, often resulting in files being lost or unable to be opened.

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What are some other forms related to corrupt?

  • corruption (noun)
  • corruptible (adjective)
  • corruptive (adjective)
  • corrupter (noun)
  • corruptor (noun)
  • corruptly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for corrupt?

What are some words that share a root or word element with corrupt? 

What are some words that often get used in discussing corrupt?

How is corrupt used in real life?

Corrupt is most commonly used to describe crooked institutions and officials, especially in government and politics.



Try using corrupt!

Is corrupt used correctly in the following sentence?

Parents often worry that their kids will stumble upon programming that corrupts their values.

How to use corrupt in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for corrupt

/ (kəˈrʌpt) /


Derived forms of corrupt

Word Origin for corrupt

C14: from Latin corruptus spoiled, from corrumpere to ruin, literally: break to pieces, from rumpere to break
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