(before the Reform Bill of 1832) any English borough that had very few voters yet was represented in Parliament.
an election district that has more representatives in a legislative body than the number of its constituents would normally call for.
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How to use rotten borough in a sentence
In short, Tattleton was what the advocates of the whole Bill were apt to term a close and sometimes a rotten borough.Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 453 | Various
Whitchurch was another famous posting centre and, like Andover, a rotten borough.Wanderings in Wessex | Edric Holmes
It was, in fact, his policy to reduce Florence to the condition of a rotten borough: nor did this policy fail.Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, Second Series | John Addington Symonds
The rather rotten borough became suffused with the radiant atmosphere of Olympus.The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (of 3) | John Morley
I hear a voice from some defender of this abuse, some upholder of this "rotten borough," crying, The Army is needed for defence!Charles Sumner; his complete works, volume 1 (of 20) | Charles Sumner
British Dictionary definitions for rotten borough
(before the Reform Act of 1832) any of certain English parliamentary constituencies with only a very few electors: Compare pocket borough
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