Corruption

Bribe
Image caption Corruption is an act of dishonesty including paying or receiving a bribe

This is Newswords, from the BBC. In this series we look at the meaning of words you might often hear in the news. We’ve asked BBC journalist Clare Arthurs to help us explain each word, and give us some examples of how it might be used.

Today’s word is ‘corruption’.

While listening to the report, see if you can hear the following words, we’ll look at their meanings later. Allegations and bribe.

Newswords from the BBC – Clare Arthurs looks at the word ‘corruption’.

Listen to these news stories.

Mr Chirac has been dogged by allegations of corruption for much of his long career, most dating back to his time as Mayor of Paris.

And this one:

A leading member of the South African governing party, Tony Yengeni has walked out of jail amid cheers from his supporters after serving less than 5 months of a 4 year prison sentence for fraud. Opposition parties said his early release showed the government was soft on corruption.

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Like the phrase nuclear issues, corruption is often used as a sweeping term to cover a range of activities.

Corruption is when somebody uses or misuses, a position of power or influence to obtain benefits for themselves for personal gain. It's an act of dishonesty including paying or receiving a bribe, stealing money, or using it for the wrong purpose, misusing funds.

Listen in the next example for the word ‘riddled’.

The government chief whip said the cabinet was riddled with corruption, and warned ministers that they were not immune from investigation.

Riddled here it doesn't mean a joke, it means full of or a lot.

A person accused of corruption might be arrested and charged by police. They are facing allegations of corruption or corruption charges.

To reduce corruption or oppose or counter it, is to be anti-corruption. Sometimes it sounds like a war! We use words like fight, battle, and tackle corruption in a programme of reforms: that’s a corruption or anti-corruption campaign. It’s used in the next example:

Germany has joined the United States in suspending funding for Kenya's increasingly discredited anti-corruption programme.

Now, listen for the word scandal.

One of the key figures at the centre of one of the biggest corruption scandals in France in recent years has died.

Scandal is a shorthand, for an event which is seen by some as wrongdoing and which causes public outrage.

Newswords from the BBC

So we heard that the word corruption is used to talk about a person who is being dishonest in a position of power or influence. It can also mean damaging someone else morally or sexually.

There is an adjective ‘corrupt’ which describes a dishonest person such as a politician.

However, this word is rarely used in news reports because it is a very negative word, and could only be used to talk about a politician, for example, if they had been proven beyond any doubt to have been involved in corruption, otherwise it would only represent someone’s opinion about the person in question.

Now, let’s look at some of the other words we heard in the report. Firstly allegations. You often hear this word in reports about corruption, because very often it has not yet been proven that politicians have been acting in a corrupt manner. So you hear the phrase ‘allegations of corruption’ which means people suspect corruption but it has not been proven.

One of the examples of something which would count as corruption was accepting a bribe. This means accepting money or benefits from someone in exchange for changing political policy or influence. For example a politician might accept a bribe from a fuel company in return for not promoting public transport usage over car usage.

Today’s Newsword was ‘corruption’.