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[rot-n] /ˈrɒt n/
adjective, rottener, rottenest.
decomposing or decaying; putrid; tainted, foul, or bad-smelling.
corrupt or morally offensive.
wretchedly bad, unpleasant, or unsatisfactory; miserable:
a rotten piece of work; a rotten day at the office.
contemptible; despicable:
a rotten little liar; a rotten trick.
(of soil, rocks, etc.) soft, yielding, or friable as the result of decomposition.
Australian Slang. drunk.
Origin of rotten
1175-1225; Middle English roten < Old Norse rotinn, past participle of an unrecorded verb meaning “to rot”
Related forms
rottenly, adverb
rottenness, noun
half-rotten, adjective
unrotten, adjective
1. fetid, rank. 2. immoral. 4. disgusting, unwholesome; treacherous.
1. sound. 2. moral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rotten
  • UK researchers have developed a series of robots that power up by digesting sugar, rotten apples, and dead flies.
  • Performance usually improves with practice, but not if training is a rotten time.
  • Immorality is literally disgusting: it appears to provoke an ancient brain system designed to identify rotten food.
  • In these rotten economic times, putting in long hours has become a popular strategy for boosting job security.
  • If you're searching for a way to wreak havoc on an ex-lover or a rotten business partner, look no further than the video above.
  • As a result, public-sector workers are spoiled rotten.
  • Many times my kitchen becomes so messy and due to rotten potatoes.
  • As you can see, this olive has a rotten area where an insect wiggled out.
  • Of course all of us boomers were spoiled rotten too.
  • The sweet smell of rotten apples, for instance, indicates diabetes.
British Dictionary definitions for rotten


affected with rot; decomposing, decaying, or putrid
breaking up, esp through age or hard use; disintegrating: rotten ironwork
morally despicable or corrupt
untrustworthy, disloyal, or treacherous
(informal) unpleasant, unfortunate, or nasty: rotten luck, rotten weather
(informal) unsatisfactory or poor: rotten workmanship
(informal) miserably unwell
(informal) distressed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed: I felt rotten when I told him to go
(of rocks, soils, etc) soft and crumbling, esp as a result of weathering
(slang, mainly Austral & NZ) intoxicated; drunk
adverb (informal)
extremely; very much: men fancy her rotten
Derived Forms
rottenly, adverb
rottenness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse rottin; related to Old English rotian to rot1
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
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Word Origin and History for rotten

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rotten



Deplorable; nasty; inept and bungled: This is a rotten situation altogether (1880+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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