How does one say "bribe" (noun or verb) in Latin?

In Italian, it is tangente, from the Latin tangentem ("touched").

The Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis says tangente (🇮🇹) means largitio quæstuosa (🇻🇦).

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    Did you check any of the online Latin dictionaries for largitio or related words?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Feb 14 at 8:04
  • 2
    Since you tagged your question ecclesiastical, Mt 28:12-13 comes to mind, but the bribery is implied: Et congregati cum senioribus, consilio accepto, pecuniam copiosam dederunt militibus dicentes: “ Dicite: “Discipuli eius nocte venerunt et furati sunt eum, nobis dormientibus"
    – Rafael
    Commented Feb 14 at 14:50
  • @Rafael Yes, my reading of that passage actually helped me discover the answer, in a bilingual Latin-English ed. of the Vulgate I have. See my answer below.
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 10 at 23:50

3 Answers 3


Since you tagged this question as "ecclesiastical," the first option that comes to mind is munus, muneris. Munus is a generic word for a "gift" (or even a "function" or "office"), but it can be used for a "bribe," as the linked L&S entry mentions in meaning II.C.

For this "bribery" meaning in ecclesiastical Latin, see Psalm 25 [26]:10, which used to be recited every time the priest performed the ablutions in the Mass:

in quorum manibus iniquitates sunt; dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.

The Douay-Rheims translation has:

In whose hands are iniquities: their right hand is filled with gifts.

In context, however, it is clear that the word means "bribes." Here, for example, is the RSV translation:

men in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.


In a verbal sense, Classical Latin would probably have used suborno (“I induce/incite/suborn”). For a nominal sense, you could use the deverbal derivation with “-io”, subornatio, (“a subornation”, “an inducement”).

EDIT: Realize that both Latin suborno and English suborn have a somewhat broader semantic field than does English bribe, since “bribe” strongly suggests a particularly monetary inducement, while “suborno”/“suborn” could mean any type of inducement (including monetary) to act in a desired way. In this way, when Luca Brasi held a gun to the bandleader’s head, and Don Vito Corleone assured him that “either your brains or your signature are going be on this contract”, the musician was successfully suborned, but certainly not “bribed” as most people today would think of that.

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    For what it's worth, soborno means bribe in modern Spanish. Commented Feb 15 at 9:19

The editors of the 2007 Latin-English edition of the ​Clementine Vulgate - Rheims New Testament from Loreto Publications give the following heading for Matthew 28:11-15 (p. 73):

The guards are bribed

They translate it into Latin as:

Custodes pecunia corrupti [lit., "The guards corrupted with money"]

Lewis & Short do give this sense of corrumpere:

[II. B. Trop. 1. b.:] to gain to one's self by gifts, etc.; to bribe, buy over, etc.

  • Nice finding! Keep in mind that corruptio/corrumpo can also have a much broader meaning, depending on context: corrumpunt mores bonos colloquia mala, corruptio optimi pessima.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 11 at 20:33

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