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rotten borough

noun
1.
(before the Reform Bill of 1832) any English borough that had very few voters yet was represented in Parliament.
2.
an election district that has more representatives in a legislative body than the number of its constituents would normally call for.
Origin of rotten borough
1805-1815
1805-15
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rotten borough
Historical Examples
  • I hear a voice from some defender of this abuse, some upholder of this "rotten borough," crying, The Army is needed for defence!

  • In practice the rotten borough system, as it was called, tended to perpetuate the ascendency of the landed proprietors.

    Give Me Liberty Thomas J. Wertenbaker
  • Unfortunately for his own peace of mind, Mr. Gordon identified himself with a rotten borough.

    Western Worthies J. Stephen Jeans
  • No rotten borough absorbs more cash than the fashionable world.

  • In short, Tattleton was what the advocates of the whole Bill were apt to term a close and sometimes a rotten borough.

  • In the sixteenth century the right to elect a member for the rotten borough of Gatton was in the hands of a woman.

  • He will find no quiet clique of the exclusive, studious and cultured; no rotten borough of the arts.

  • In the second place, Lansmere is neither a rotten borough to be bought, nor a close borough, under one man's nomination.

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The average price of a seat in Parliament was £5000 for a so-called 'rotten borough.'

    Queen Victoria E. Gordon Browne
  • In 1809 he became of age, and entered parliament for a rotten borough openly bought for him by his father.

British Dictionary definitions for rotten borough

rotten borough

noun
1.
(before the Reform Act of 1832) any of certain English parliamentary constituencies with only a very few electors Compare pocket borough
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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6
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