[ suh-bawrn ]
See synonyms for: subornsuborned on

verb (used with object)
  1. 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.

  2. Law.

    • to induce (a person, especially a witness) to give false testimony.

    • to obtain (false testimony) from a witness.

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

Other words from suborn

  • sub·or·na·tion [suhb-awr-ney-shuhn], /ˌsʌb ɔrˈneɪ ʃən/, noun
  • sub·or·na·tive [suh-bawr-nuh-tiv], /səˈbɔr nə tɪv/, adjective
  • sub·orn·er, noun
  • un·sub·orned, adjective

Words Nearby suborn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use suborn in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suborn


/ (səˈbɔːn) /

  1. to bribe, incite, or instigate (a person) to commit a wrongful act

  2. criminal law to induce (a witness) to commit perjury

Origin of suborn

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

Derived forms of suborn

  • subornation (ˌsʌbɔːˈneɪʃən), noun
  • subornative (sʌˈbɔːnətɪv), adjective
  • suborner, noun

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