Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Turpitude


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is turpitude. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Turpitude refers to inherent lack of integrity or morality, or to an evil or immoral act. It is frequently used in legal contexts in the phrase “moral turpitude.”

// Crimes such as theft and perjury may involve moral turpitude.

TURPITUDE in Context

“Moral turpitude is defined at the local level, but common crimes include murder, … robbery, burglary, drugged driving, drunk driving with a suspended license, voluntary manslaughter….” — David J. Bier, The Cato Institute, 30 Nov. 2021

Did You Know?

Turpitude comes from Latin turpis, meaning “vile” or “base.” The word is often heard in the phrase “moral turpitude,” an expression used in law to designate an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community. A criminal offense that involves moral turpitude is considered wrong or evil by moral standards, in addition to being the violation of a statute.

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