1650s, "capable of being obtained for a price; that can be corrupted;" 1660s, "offered for sale," from French vénal, Old French venel "for sale" (of prostitutes, etc.; 12c.), from Latin venalis "for sale, to be sold; capable of being bribed," from venum (nominative *venus) "for sale," from PIE root *wes- (1) "to buy, sell" (source also of Sanskrit vasnah "purchase money," vasnam "reward," vasnayati "he bargains, haggles;" Greek onos "price paid, purchase," oneisthai "to buy"). Typically with a bad sense of "ready to sell one's services or influence for money and from sordid motives; to be bought basely or meanly."
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