Top 35 Slang For Bribe – Meaning & Usage

Bribes, although highly discouraged and often illegal, have unfortunately become a part of our society. But have you ever wondered what other terms people use to refer to this unethical act? In this listicle, we delve into the top slang words for bribe that you may not be familiar with. Stay informed and expand your knowledge of the darker side of language with us.

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1. Grease someone’s palm

This phrase refers to giving someone money or a gift in order to influence their decisions or actions. It implies that the bribe is done discreetly and with the intention of getting favorable treatment in return.

  • For example, a corrupt politician might say, “If you want that permit, you’ll have to grease my palm.”
  • In a business negotiation, someone might suggest, “We can grease their palms to ensure a smooth deal.”
  • A person discussing corruption might say, “Bribes are often disguised as gifts or favors, like greasing someone’s palm.”

2. Slip someone a little something

This phrase implies giving a small bribe to someone discreetly, often in cash or another form of payment. The bribe is usually given with the intention of influencing a decision or receiving special treatment.

  • For instance, a person trying to skip the line might say, “I’ll slip the bouncer a little something to get in faster.”
  • In a corrupt organization, someone might suggest, “We can slip the inspector a little something to overlook the violations.”
  • A character in a crime novel might say, “If you want to get things done around here, you need to know how to slip someone a little something.”

3. Payola

Payola refers to the practice of giving or receiving bribes or kickbacks in exchange for preferential treatment, usually in the entertainment industry. It can involve paying for airplay, positive reviews, or other forms of promotion.

  • For example, a music producer might say, “The success of that song was due to payola in the radio industry.”
  • In a discussion about ethics, someone might argue, “Payola undermines the integrity of the music industry.”
  • A journalist investigating corruption might uncover evidence of payola in the media and write an exposé.

4. Sweeten the deal

This phrase means to offer something extra, usually in the form of a bribe, to make a deal or agreement more appealing to the other party. It implies that the bribe is meant to sway the decision in one’s favor.

  • For instance, a salesperson might say, “If you sign the contract today, I can sweeten the deal with a discount.”
  • In a political negotiation, someone might suggest, “We can sweeten the deal by offering additional funding for their pet project.”
  • A character in a movie might say, “If you want to win this contract, you’ll need to sweeten the deal with something the client can’t refuse.”

5. Under the table

This phrase refers to the act of giving or receiving a bribe in a clandestine or illegal manner, usually involving cash payments. It implies that the bribe is done without the knowledge or approval of the authorities or other stakeholders.

  • For example, a corrupt official might say, “We can arrange the deal under the table to avoid any scrutiny.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, someone might argue, “Under-the-table payments are a common form of bribery in many industries.”
  • A character in a crime novel might say, “If you want to get what you want, you’ll need to do it under the table.”

6. Palm greasing

This term refers to the act of giving or receiving a bribe, usually in a discreet or secretive manner. “Palm greasing” implies that money or favors are being exchanged to influence a decision or gain an advantage.

  • For example, in a corrupt government, officials might engage in palm greasing to secure contracts for certain companies.
  • In a discussion about bribery in politics, someone might say, “Palm greasing has become an endemic problem in this country.”
  • A journalist investigating corruption might write, “Evidence suggests that palm greasing played a major role in the controversial land deal.”

7. Hush money

This term refers to money given to someone in order to keep them quiet or prevent them from revealing damaging information. “Hush money” is often used in situations where someone has information that could be detrimental to another person or organization.

  • For instance, in a scandal involving a public figure, they might pay hush money to prevent the release of incriminating evidence.
  • In a court case, a lawyer might argue, “The defendant offered hush money to the witness in an attempt to influence their testimony.”
  • A journalist reporting on a bribery case might write, “The accused politician allegedly used hush money to cover up his corrupt activities.”

8. Kickback

A kickback refers to a form of bribery where a portion of the payment for a contract or business transaction is given back to the person who awarded the contract or facilitated the transaction. Kickbacks are typically illegal and involve secret agreements.

  • For example, in a construction project, a contractor might offer a kickback to a government official in exchange for winning the contract.
  • In a discussion about corruption in the business world, someone might say, “Kickbacks are a common practice in certain industries.”
  • A whistleblower might come forward and say, “I have evidence of a kickback scheme involving several high-ranking executives.”

9. Dirty money

This term refers to money that is obtained through illegal or unethical means, such as bribery. “Dirty money” implies that the funds are tainted or illegitimate.

  • For instance, in a money laundering case, investigators might track the flow of dirty money through various offshore accounts.
  • In a discussion about organized crime, someone might say, “The gang used dirty money to fund their operations.”
  • A financial analyst might warn, “Investing in businesses that deal with dirty money can have serious legal and ethical consequences.”

10. Fixer-upper

A fixer-upper is a person who is hired to solve problems or make arrangements through illicit means, often involving bribery. The term implies that this person has the ability to “fix” or resolve difficult situations through underhanded tactics.

  • For example, in a political scandal, a fixer-upper might be hired to bribe witnesses or manipulate evidence.
  • In a discussion about corruption in sports, someone might say, “Fixer-uppers play a key role in match-fixing and illegal betting.”
  • A journalist investigating a bribery case might write, “The fixer-upper acted as a middleman, facilitating the exchange of bribes between the two parties.”

11. Buy someone off

This phrase refers to the act of offering money or gifts to someone in order to persuade them to do something or to keep them quiet about something. It implies an exchange of money for someone’s cooperation or silence.

  • For example, “The politician was accused of trying to buy off the witnesses in the corruption case.”
  • In a discussion about corporate scandals, someone might say, “Companies often try to buy off regulators to avoid fines.”
  • A person sharing a personal experience might say, “My neighbor tried to buy me off to drop the lawsuit against him.”

12. Feather one’s nest

This phrase means to accept or receive a bribe, typically in the form of money or favors. It implies the act of enriching oneself through corrupt practices or by taking advantage of one’s position.

  • For instance, “The corrupt official was caught feathering his nest with kickbacks from contractors.”
  • In a discussion about political corruption, someone might say, “Many politicians are known to feather their nests with illicit funds.”
  • A person sharing a news article might say, “The CEO of the company was found guilty of feathering his nest with embezzled funds.”

13. Slush fund

This term refers to a hidden or undisclosed fund that is used for illicit purposes, such as bribing officials or funding illegal activities. It implies the existence of a pool of money that is kept off the books and used for corrupt practices.

  • For example, “The company had a slush fund to pay off government officials and secure contracts.”
  • In a discussion about organized crime, someone might say, “Gangsters often have slush funds to bribe law enforcement.”
  • A person discussing political scandals might say, “The scandal involved the use of a slush fund to finance the candidate’s campaign.”

14. Backhander

This term refers to a bribe that is given to someone in a position of power or authority. It implies the act of offering money or gifts in order to influence or gain favor with the recipient.

  • For instance, “The businessman offered a backhander to the government official to secure the contract.”
  • In a discussion about corruption in sports, someone might say, “Athletes have been known to give backhanders to referees to influence the outcome of games.”
  • A person sharing a personal experience might say, “I witnessed a backhander being given to a judge in the courtroom.”

15. Payoff

This term refers to a bribe or illegal payment that is made to someone in exchange for their cooperation or silence. It implies the act of providing money or other benefits to someone in order to achieve a desired outcome.

  • For example, “The mob boss ordered a payoff to the police officer to protect his criminal activities.”
  • In a discussion about political corruption, someone might say, “The payoff scandal rocked the government and led to several high-profile resignations.”
  • A person sharing a news article might say, “The company was fined for making payoffs to foreign officials to secure contracts.”

16. Envelope under the table

This refers to a bribe that is given discreetly, often in cash, and hidden from public view. The term “envelope under the table” suggests that the bribe is concealed to avoid detection or suspicion.

  • For example, in a corrupt business deal, someone might say, “We’ll need to make sure there’s an envelope under the table to secure the contract.”
  • In a discussion about government corruption, a person might comment, “Politicians often accept envelopes under the table in exchange for favors.”
  • A news article might report, “The scandal involved several high-ranking officials receiving envelopes under the table in exchange for permits and licenses.”

17. Brown envelope

A “brown envelope” is a term used to describe the physical form in which a bribe is often given. It typically refers to an envelope that is discreetly handed over, often containing cash or valuable documents.

  • For instance, in a bribery case, a witness might testify, “I personally saw the accused hand over a brown envelope to the official.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, someone might mention, “Brown envelopes filled with cash are a common method of bribery.”
  • A news headline might read, “Politician caught on camera accepting a brown envelope filled with bribe money.”

18. Bung

This term refers to an illegal payment made to someone in exchange for special treatment or favors. “Bung” can be used as a noun or a verb to describe the act of giving or receiving a bribe.

  • For example, in a corruption investigation, a detective might say, “We have evidence of the suspect receiving a bung in exchange for favorable contracts.”
  • In a discussion about government ethics, someone might argue, “Bungs undermine the integrity of public institutions and breed corruption.”
  • A news report might state, “The businessman was arrested for attempting to bung a government official for a construction permit.”

19. Sweetener

This term refers to a bribe that is given as an incentive or inducement to someone in order to gain their favor or cooperation. It is often used in a metaphorical sense, suggesting that the bribe is meant to sweeten the deal.

  • For instance, in a political scandal, a journalist might write, “The company offered a sweetener to the politician in exchange for favorable legislation.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, someone might comment, “Sweeteners are often used to secure lucrative contracts in the business world.”
  • A whistleblower might reveal, “I was offered a sweetener to keep quiet about the illegal activities happening within the company.”

20. Palm-greasing

This term refers to the act of giving or receiving a bribe, often in a covert manner, to facilitate a transaction or gain an unfair advantage. The term “palm-greasing” implies that money is being exchanged in a clandestine or secretive manner.

  • For example, in a discussion about political corruption, someone might say, “Palm-greasing is a widespread practice in some countries.”
  • In a news article about bribery, a journalist might write, “The investigation revealed a network of palm-greasing among government officials.”
  • A person discussing business ethics might argue, “Palm-greasing undermines fair competition and erodes trust in the marketplace.”

21. Envelope

An “envelope” is a slang term used to refer to a bribe or an under-the-table payment. It is often used to discreetly exchange money in exchange for a favor or to influence a decision.

  • For example, “The politician was caught accepting an envelope filled with cash.”
  • In a corruption scandal, a witness might testify, “I saw them hand him an envelope in exchange for the contract.”
  • A person discussing bribery might say, “Envelopes filled with money are a common method of bribery in some countries.”

22. Baksheesh

Baksheesh is a slang term used in some cultures to refer to a tip or bribe. It is often given in exchange for a service or to expedite a process.

  • For instance, in a country where bribery is common, a traveler might say, “I had to give the customs officer some baksheesh to get through quickly.”
  • A person discussing corruption might mention, “Baksheesh is deeply rooted in the culture and is often expected for even basic services.”
  • In a conversation about etiquette, someone might ask, “Is it appropriate to offer baksheesh in this country?”

23. Schmear

To “schmear” someone means to bribe them or to give them money in order to gain an advantage or influence a decision.

  • For example, “He schmeared the judge to get a lighter sentence.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, someone might say, “Schmearing is a common practice in certain industries.”
  • A person discussing politics might mention, “Candidates often schmear influential individuals to gain their support.”

24. Juice

“Juice” is a slang term used to refer to bribe money. It implies the use of money or financial incentives to influence a decision or gain an advantage.

  • For instance, “He offered a lot of juice to secure the contract.”
  • In a conversation about corruption, someone might say, “The juice flows freely in that industry.”
  • A person discussing bribery might mention, “Juice is often used to bypass regulations and secure favorable outcomes.”

25. Fix

To “fix” something means to arrange or orchestrate a bribe or to manipulate a situation through illegal means.

  • For example, “He fixed the outcome of the game by bribing the referee.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, someone might say, “The system is rigged, and those in power are fixing everything.”
  • A person discussing bribery might mention, “Fixing is a serious crime that undermines the integrity of institutions.”

26. Pay for play

This term refers to the act of giving money or other forms of compensation in exchange for receiving special treatment, favors, or privileges.

  • For example, in politics, someone might say, “Corruption in the government often involves pay for play schemes.”
  • In the sports industry, there might be allegations of “pay for play” involving athletes receiving money to throw games or perform poorly.
  • A journalist investigating corruption might write, “The scandal uncovered a network of pay for play arrangements between politicians and wealthy donors.”

27. Scratch someone’s back

This phrase means to do something nice or helpful for someone with the expectation that they will reciprocate the favor in the future.

  • For instance, a colleague might say, “If you scratch my back and cover my shift, I’ll owe you one.”
  • In a business context, someone might say, “Networking is all about scratching each other’s backs.”
  • A person discussing political favors might comment, “Politicians often scratch each other’s backs to gain support for their agendas.”

28. Slush money

Slush money refers to a pool of funds, often of questionable origin, that is used for bribes, kickbacks, or other illegal activities.

  • For example, in a corruption scandal, investigators might uncover a slush fund used by government officials for personal gain.
  • A journalist reporting on financial crimes might write, “The company used slush money to bribe government officials and secure lucrative contracts.”
  • In a discussion about organized crime, someone might say, “Slush money plays a crucial role in maintaining criminal enterprises.”

29. Buy someone’s silence

This phrase means to offer money or other forms of compensation to prevent someone from disclosing sensitive or incriminating information.

  • For instance, in a legal case, a person might say, “The defendant tried to buy the witness’s silence.”
  • In a scandal involving a public figure, someone might comment, “They paid hush money to buy her silence.”
  • A journalist investigating corruption might write, “The company attempted to buy the whistleblower’s silence, but their story eventually came to light.”

30. Fixer

A fixer is someone who is skilled at resolving problems or arranging illicit activities, often through bribes or other illegal means.

  • For example, in a crime drama, a character might say, “We need to call our fixer to handle this situation.”
  • In a discussion about political scandals, someone might comment, “Fixers often play a key role in covering up wrongdoing.”
  • A journalist investigating corruption might write, “The fixer was responsible for orchestrating the bribery scheme and ensuring that everyone involved stayed silent.”

31. Bribing

The act of offering money or other incentives to someone in order to influence their actions or decisions, typically in a dishonest or illegal manner.

  • For example, “He was arrested for bribing a government official.”
  • In a corruption scandal, a news headline might read, “Company executives accused of bribing politicians.”
  • A person discussing unethical business practices might say, “Bribing is a serious offense and undermines the integrity of the system.”

32. Pay someone off

The act of giving money or other forms of compensation to someone in order to gain an advantage or achieve a desired outcome, especially when it involves illegal or unethical activities.

  • For instance, “He paid off the judge to avoid a prison sentence.”
  • In a political context, a person might say, “Corrupt politicians often accept bribes in exchange for favors.”
  • A character in a crime novel might say, “I had to pay off the detective to keep my involvement a secret.”

33. Dirty deal

A secret or illegal agreement or transaction, often involving the exchange of money or favors, which is intended to benefit one party at the expense of others.

  • For example, “They made a dirty deal to secure the contract.”
  • In a discussion about corruption, a person might say, “Dirty deals are a common occurrence in the business world.”
  • A news report might describe a scandal as a “web of dirty deals and backroom negotiations.”
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34. Pay under the table

The act of making a payment to someone, usually in cash, without reporting it to the proper authorities or paying the required taxes.

  • For instance, “He was paid under the table to avoid paying taxes.”
  • In a discussion about employment practices, a person might say, “Some businesses pay their employees under the table to avoid legal obligations.”
  • A news article might report on a politician receiving payments under the table as a form of corruption.

35. Oil someone’s wheels

To provide someone with money or other incentives in order to influence their actions or decisions, often in a dishonest or unethical manner.

  • For example, “He oiled the politician’s wheels to get his project approved.”
  • In a conversation about corruption, a person might say, “Bribing is just one way to oil someone’s wheels.”
  • A character in a movie might say, “If you want things to go smoothly, you need to grease some palms.”