[ suh-bawrn ]
/ səˈbɔrn /
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verb (used with object)

to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime The drug cartel suborned the local police department to turn a blind eye to their trafficking.
  1. to induce (a person, especially a witness) to give false testimony.
  2. to obtain (false testimony) from a witness.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of suborn

First recorded in 1525–35; from Latin subornāre “to instigate secretly, prepare clandestinely,” originally, “to supply,” equivalent to sub-, preposition and prefix + ornāre “to equip,” from an assumed ordnāre, a derivative of the noun ordō (stem ordin- ) “line, row, rank, grade”; see origin at sub-, order


sub·or·na·tion [suhb-awr-ney-shuhn], /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. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for suborn

British Dictionary definitions for suborn

/ (səˈbɔːn) /

verb (tr)

to bribe, incite, or instigate (a person) to commit a wrongful act
criminal law to induce (a witness) to commit perjury

Derived forms of suborn

subornation (ˌsʌbɔːˈneɪʃən), nounsubornative (sʌˈbɔːnətɪv), adjectivesuborner, noun

Word Origin for suborn

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