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See more synonyms for suborn on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime.
  2. Law.
    1. to induce (a person, especially a witness) to give false testimony.
    2. to obtain (false testimony) from a witness.
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Origin of suborn

1525–35; < Latin subornāre to instigate secretly, orig., to supply, equivalent to sub- sub- + ornāre to equip; see adorn
Related formssub·or·na·tion [suhb-awr-ney-shuh n] /ˌsʌb ɔrˈneɪ ʃən/, nounsub·or·na·tive [suh-bawr-nuh-tiv] /səˈbɔr nə tɪv/, adjectivesub·orn·er, nounun·sub·orned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

instigate, incite, procure, bribe

Examples from the Web for suborn

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The single sentry he could suborn, or else—if bribery failed—poniard.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • Shall I shoot the dog below who dares to attempt to suborn our men?

    Jones of the 64th

    F. S. (Frederick Sadleir) Brereton

  • They suborn their reason to declare in favour of their necessity.

  • Was there no postman or postmaster whom he could suborn to intercept them for him?

    Denis Dent

    Ernest W. Hornung

  • It is they who suborn our press and blind the eyes of our people.

    The Machine

    Upton Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for suborn


verb (tr)
  1. to bribe, incite, or instigate (a person) to commit a wrongful act
  2. criminal law to induce (a witness) to commit perjury
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Derived Formssubornation (ˌsʌbɔːˈneɪʃən), nounsubornative (sʌˈbɔːnətɪv), adjectivesuborner, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin subornāre, from sub- secretly + ornāre to furnish
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 suborn


"to procure by bribery, to lure (someone) to commit a crime," 1520s (implied in subornation), from Middle French suborner (13c.), from Latin subornare "suborn," originally "equip," from sub "under, secretly" (see sub-) + ornare "equip," related to ordo "order" (see order). Related: Suborned; suborning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper