[verb per-vurt; noun pur-vert]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to affect with perversion.
  2. to lead astray morally.
  3. to turn away from the right course.
  4. to lead into mental error or false judgment.
  5. to turn to an improper use; misapply.
  6. to misconstrue or misinterpret, especially deliberately; distort: to pervert someone's statement.
  7. to bring to a less excellent state; vitiate; debase.
  8. Pathology. to change to what is unnatural or abnormal.
  9. to convert or persuade to a religious belief regarded as false or wrong.
  1. a person who practices sexual perversion.
  2. Pathology. a person affected with perversion.
  3. a person who has been perverted, especially to a religious belief regarded as erroneous.

Origin of pervert

1300–50; (v.) Middle English perverten < Latin pervertere to overturn, subvert, equivalent to per- per- + vertere to turn; (noun) noun use of obsolete pervert perverted
Related formsper·vert·er, nounper·vert·i·ble, adjectiveper·vert·i·bil·i·ty, nounper·vert·i·bly, adverbnon·per·vert·i·ble, adjective

Synonyms for pervert

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of pervert

British Dictionary definitions for pervert


verb (pəˈvɜːt) (tr)
  1. to use wrongly or badly
  2. to interpret wrongly or badly; distort
  3. to lead into deviant or perverted beliefs or behaviour; corrupt
  4. to debase
noun (ˈpɜːvɜːt)
  1. a person who practises sexual perversion
Derived Formsperverter, nounpervertible, adjective

Word Origin for pervert

C14: from Old French pervertir, from Latin pervertere to turn the wrong way, from per- (indicating deviation) + vertere to turn
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 pervert

c.1300 (transitive), "to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one," from Old French pervertir "pervert, undo, destroy" (12c.) and directly from Latin pervertere "overthrow, overturn," figuratively "to corrupt, subvert, abuse," literally "turn the wrong way, turn about," from per- "away" (see per) + vertere "to turn" (see versus).

Related: Perverted; perverting. Replaced native froward, which embodies the same image. Old English had mishweorfed "perverted, inverted," an identical formation to the Latin word using native elements.


1660s, "one who has forsaken a doctrine or system regarded as true, apostate," from pervert (v.). Psychological sense of "one who has a perversion of the sexual instinct" is attested from 1897 (Havelock Ellis), originally especially of homosexuals.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper