1. Marked by immorality and perversion; depraved.
2. Venal or dishonest: a corrupt mayor.
3. Containing errors or alterations, especially ones that prevent proper understanding or use: a corrupt translation; a corrupt computer file.
4. Archaic Tainted; putrid.
v. cor·rupt·ed, cor·rupt·ing, cor·rupts
1. To ruin morally; pervert: "The argument that modern life consists of a menu of horrors by which we are corrupted ... is a founding idea of the critique of modernity" (Susan Sontag).
2. To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of, as by offering bribes: "Our politics has been corrupted by money and suffused with meanness" (Peter Edelman).
a. To cause to become rotten; spoil: "There was a strange smell in the room, high and slightly sweet, like perfume corrupted in the bottle" (Bella Bathurst).
b. Archaic To render impure; contaminate.
a. To alter from original or proper form: "Strangers named them the Chippewa, which was corrupted to Ojibway" (Paul Theroux).
b. Computers To damage (data) in a file or on a disk.
To become corrupt.
[Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, to destroy : com-, intensive pref.; see COM- + rumpere, to break; see reup- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
cor·rupter, cor·ruptor n.
Synonyms: corrupt, debase, debauch, deprave, pervert, vitiate
These verbs mean to ruin utterly in character or quality: was corrupted by power; debased himself by taking the bribe; a youth debauched by drugs; led a life depraved by sensual indulgence; perverted her talent by her pursuit of commercial success; a laudable goal vitiated by dishonest means.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.