Category Archives: Definition of “perverse”

The Meaning of “Perverse”


You will not believe this, but for years I thought that the meaning of

“perverse” was being oppositional and not listening to my parents!

Really! They would sometimes say, “Why are you so perverse?” or

“That is a perverse way of looking at things!”

Here are the three definitions of “perverse” from that brown, leather

dictionary that I use at such times as these. (“The New Brittanica-

Webster Dictionary and Reference Guide,” 1974 edition, originally

Webster published first edition in 1768.) I loved the weight of it,

when I would haul it off the windowsill of my dorm room to look a

word up. I love it now,with its gold embossed letters and stripes on

the binding.

The word, “perverse, adj.”

1. Turned away from what is right or good. A synonym given, “corrupt.”

Well, folks, that was not me while young. I was argumentative and may

have looked at life in a different way, but no way was I anything but a

“good girl” in most respects!

Moving on to the second meaning of the word…

2. Obstinate, in opposing what is right, reasonable or accepted. A synonym

for this second choice is “wrongheaded.”

Okay, here we may be on to something! I was taught from age four that if I

could “debate” by using numbers of points to be made, I could talk my

parents into my staying up, getting something or convincing them that

my next door neighbor girls, the Weisler’s were more normal than we were!

Truthfully, I approached parenting this same way. I allowed my children to

have a “voice” and a “vote” in family decision making. I also allowed them

to give me reasonable excuses to be allowed to buy or do something. This

gave them autonomy and power. Many people prefer to have their children

do things, “Because I said so!” But it was for me part of my parents showing

me that I was a valued member of the family with ideas to contribute.

While I was four, I would say I would take a longer nap and not be cranky the

next day if they let me stay up to see either the Miss America pageant or a

Disney show that lasted past 8 o’clock, our firm and set bedtime from age 3

until we turned 10! I hated going to bed while the sun was up in the summer

time so I would find myself telling them “the girls next door” were being

allowed to stay up (usually on weekends, this worked, since my Dad was

the only one who had to get up early Monday through Friday, in the summer.

My Mom, being a teacher, slept in as long as the 3 of us did.)

Another time, I may have been obstinate, or “perverse,” would be when I

would tell my Mom that I “needed” to go to the library before the books were

due or I “needed” to have a new bike and I would provide my babysitting

money added to their 50% contribution. If I could give more than one or

two points in the debate, they would capitulate. I was mighty fine at using

words to get my way! My brother did the same for a new tennis racket,

saying he would come up with 50% of the cost by raking neighbors’

leaves and the other one did the same for new track/running shoes.

How would my parents use the words, “Quit being so perverse?”

This was usually when they felt the arguing had gone on too long and

the debate didn’t have any original thoughts or contributions but just

those infamous words,


3. Marked by peevishness or petulance is the last definition of “perverse.”

A synonym for this choice is, “cranky.”

That may apply to any sleepy, hungry, or ornery child out there!

Did you always think that the word “perverse” meant something else!

Well, that just goes to show you, our minds as we get older are down in

the gutter!