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[veen-l] /ˈvin l/
willing to sell one's influence, especially in return for a bribe; open to bribery; mercenary:
a venal judge.
able to be purchased, as by a bribe:
venal acquittals.
associated with or characterized by bribery:
a venal administration; venal agreements.
Origin of venal
1645-55; < Latin vēnālis, equivalent to vēn(um) (accusative) for sale (cf. vend) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
venally, adverb
nonvenal, adjective
nonvenally, adverb
unvenal, adjective
Can be confused
venal, venial.
1. bribable, corruptible. See corrupt.
1. incorruptible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for venal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is not wonderful that the wearers of ermine repaid themselves by venal practices.

    A Book About Lawyers John Cordy Jeaffreson
  • The fate of the children of venal concubines is generally very sad.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • Afterwards we find that meaner quill is replaced by venal quill; and the couplet about the rival translations is suppressed.

    Addison William John Courthope
  • They were so venal, too, that they aided the enemy rather than us by their movements.

  • The Prince di —, under a weak despot and a venal administration, is a man above the law.

    Zanoni Edward Bulwer Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for venal


easily bribed or corrupted; mercenary: a venal magistrate
characterized by corruption: a venal civilization
open to purchase, esp by bribery: a venal contract
Derived Forms
venality (viːˈnælɪtɪ) noun
venally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin vēnālis, from vēnum sale
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 venal

1650s, "offered for sale, capable of being obtained for a price," from French vénal, from Latin venalis "that is for sale," from venum (nominative *venus) "for sale," from PIE root *wes- "to buy, sell" (cf. Sanskrit vasnah "purchase money," vasnam "reward," vasnayati "he bargains, haggles;" Greek onos "price paid, purchase," oneisthai "to buy").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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