Definition of perverse in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /pəˈvəːs/


1Showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable: Kate’s perverse decision not to cooperate held good
More example sentences
  • So his decision to show the way last night smacked of a perverse desire to prove something to himself and the world.
  • I always have this perverse but burning desire to be scared, and it's hard for me to achieve this goal simply because it's hard for me to get scared.
  • But I have this perverse desire to be shaved with a cut-throat razor - by an expert.
awkward, contrary, difficult, unreasonable, uncooperative, unhelpful, obstructive, disobliging, unaccommodating, troublesome, tiresome, annoying, vexatious, obstreperous, disobedient, unmanageable, uncontrollable, recalcitrant, refractory, rebellious;
wilful, headstrong, self-willed, capricious, wayward, cross-grained, stubborn, obstinate, obdurate, pertinacious, mulish, pig-headed, bull-headed, intractable, intransigent, inflexible;
Scottish  thrawn
informal cussed
British informal bloody-minded, bolshie, stroppy
North American informal balky
archaic froward, contumacious
rare contrarious
2Contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice: in two general elections the outcome was quite perverse
More example sentences
  • There is sometimes in us a perverse refusal to accept or to believe in good, a deep-seated, hardened refusal which belittles or despises good.
  • It is perverse because everyone accepts that regular exercise helps reduce the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity and even depression.
  • Now, this standard has a certain perverse appeal, at least if we felt it would be universally followed.
illogical, irrational, unreasonable, contradictory, wrong, wrong-headed, incorrect, irregular, inappropriate, unorthodox
2.1 Law (Of a verdict) against the weight of evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law.
Example sentences
  • Where, however, a jury reaches a perverse verdict on the evidence, it is open to the Court of Appeal, to reverse that verdict.
  • It could only do so if satisfied that the decision was so perverse that the judge must have fallen into error.
  • It is a perverse verdict and it is a miscarriage of justice in relation to costs.
3Sexually perverted: an evil life dedicated to perverse pleasure films depicting behaviour which seemed perverse or deviant were seen as more suitable for private therapy than for public consumption
More example sentences
  • Donny saw the look of perverse pleasure on his neighbor's face as his mother bent over to pick up the keys.
  • Colapinto portrays Money as opportunistic, manipulative, condescending, violent, and even perverse.
  • But conservative groups have condemned multi-stall unisex toilets as unnecessary and perverse.
perverted, depraved, unnatural, abnormal, deviant, degenerate, immoral, warped, twisted, corrupt;
wicked, base, evil
informal kinky, sick, pervy, sicko



Pronunciation: /pəˈvəːsnəs/
Example sentences
  • This is partly because he is compassionate about the suffering of ordinary Europeans, but also exasperated by their masochism and perverseness.
  • What distinguishes his recent work is an almost maternal sympathy for the perverseness of the human animal - and the twists in its fate.
  • Such Delphic obscurity was not inspired by mere perverseness.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'turned away from what is right or good'): from Old French pervers(e), from Latin perversus 'turned about', from the verb pervertere (see pervert).

Words that rhyme with perverse

amerce, asperse, averse, biodiverse, burse, coerce, converse, curse, diverse, Erse, hearse, immerse, intersperse, nurse, perse, purse, reimburse, submerse, terce, terse, transverse, verse, worse

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: per|verse

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.