• synonyms


See more synonyms for rotten on Thesaurus.com
adjective, rot·ten·er, rot·ten·est.
  1. decomposing or decaying; putrid; tainted, foul, or bad-smelling.
  2. corrupt or morally offensive.
  3. wretchedly bad, unpleasant, or unsatisfactory; miserable: a rotten piece of work; a rotten day at the office.
  4. contemptible; despicable: a rotten little liar; a rotten trick.
  5. (of soil, rocks, etc.) soft, yielding, or friable as the result of decomposition.
  6. Australian Slang. drunk.
Show More

Origin of rotten

1175–1225; Middle English roten < Old Norse rotinn, past participle of an unrecorded verb meaning “to rot”
Related formsrot·ten·ly, adverbrot·ten·ness, nounhalf-rot·ten, adjectiveun·rot·ten, adjective

Synonyms for rotten

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Antonyms for rotten

1. sound. 2. moral.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for rottenness

abuse, infection, corruption, deterioration, contagion, disease, epidemic, pollution, poisoning, excrement, soil, muck, mud, stain, ground, smut, grime, slime, desecration, defilement

Examples from the Web for rottenness

Contemporary Examples of rottenness

Historical Examples of rottenness

  • The earth is corrupt, science only serves to show its rottenness.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • One thing he teaches, that there is rottenness where he appears.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • What rottenness was within that gilded splendor by which she was surrounded!

  • What right have they to propagate the rottenness of their minds and bodies?

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

  • Only the rottenness in him hasn't broke out because of the weed.

    The Heart of Unaga

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for rottenness


  1. affected with rot; decomposing, decaying, or putrid
  2. breaking up, esp through age or hard use; disintegratingrotten ironwork
  3. morally despicable or corrupt
  4. untrustworthy, disloyal, or treacherous
  5. informal unpleasant, unfortunate, or nastyrotten luck; rotten weather
  6. informal unsatisfactory or poorrotten workmanship
  7. informal miserably unwell
  8. informal distressed, uncomfortable, and embarrassedI felt rotten when I told him to go
  9. (of rocks, soils, etc) soft and crumbling, esp as a result of weathering
  10. slang, mainly Australian and NZ intoxicated; drunk
Show More
adverb informal
  1. extremely; very muchmen fancy her rotten
Show More
Derived Formsrottenly, adverbrottenness, noun

Word Origin for rotten

C13: from Old Norse rottin; related to Old English rotian to rot 1
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 rottenness


late 14c., from rotten + -ness.

Show More



c.1300, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rotinn "decayed," past participle of verb related to rotna "to decay," from Proto-Germanic stem *rut- (see rot (v.)). Sense of "corrupt" is from late 14c.; weakened sense of "bad" first recorded 1881. Rotten apple is from a saying traced back to at least 1528: "For one rotten apple lytell and lytell putrifieth an whole heape." The Rotten Row in London and elsewhere probably is from a different word, but of uncertain origin.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper