Definition of venal in English:



  • Showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery; corrupt.

    ‘local customs officers are notoriously venal’
    ‘their generosity had been at least partly venal’
    • ‘The emotional depth of the cast, whether it's Graham or one of his venal bosses, lends a dramatic weight to the story.’
    • ‘They may well be venal, amoral egomaniacs, but the one thing you can pretty much guarantee is that they will be sharp-tongued.’
    • ‘The political institution and party to which he has devoted a political career spanning half a century are utterly venal.’
    • ‘Leaders have offered the people little but venal, corrupt governance for decades.’
    • ‘But politicians are expected to be venal and self-serving if given the chance.’
    • ‘How can the parties expect voter loyalty if they consistently assume voters are just venal and self interested?’
    • ‘The National candidate is portrayed as a venal, cynical and arrogant.’
    • ‘She is many things - venal, arrogant, authoritarian, ruthless - but she is no dummy.’
    • ‘On my scale of morality, the selling of charlie to City high-flyers and celebrities is at worst venal, and possibly not immoral at all.’
    • ‘Virtually all of the clergy are portrayed as venal and conspiratorial.’
    • ‘Those visionaries passed and were replaced by venal men who don't care for independence or sovereignty and who want to sell the country to the US.’
    • ‘That said, of course there are many self serving, venal politicians.’
    • ‘Starring Eric Idle as a director, it portrays everyone in Hollywood as either effete New Agers or venal bullies.’
    • ‘What damages teenagers is an adult world which caricatures them as vain, promiscuous, stupid and venal.’
    • ‘From this perspective, could any commercial interest be otherwise than venal?’
    • ‘Ambition for power and other venal motivations are built into the structure of democracy.’
    • ‘As boring meeting after boring meeting takes place, we are supposed to care about these venal, self-absorbed egomaniacs.’
    • ‘In hindsight, we know that much of the prosperity was a bubble fueled by venal corporate criminals.’
    • ‘It is bad enough that so many players have acquired a cynical and venal attitude but should spectators do likewise the game at top level is finished.’
    • ‘He regarded publishers, agents and reviewers as stupid and venal.’
    corrupt, corruptible, bribable, open to bribery, purchasable, buyable, grafting
    dishonest, fraudulent, dishonourable, untrustworthy, unscrupulous, unprincipled
    mercenary, avaricious, grasping, rapacious
    bent, crooked, warped, shady
    simoniacal, simoniac
    View synonyms


On the difference between venal and venial, see venial


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘available for purchase’, referring to merchandise or a favour): from Latin venalis, from venum thing for sale.