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Corruption, when applied as a technical term, is a general concept describing any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system's original purpose. Its original meaning has connotations of evil, malignance, sickness, and loss of innocence or purity.
Specific types of corruption include:
- Political corruption, or the dysfunction of a political system or institution in which government officials, political officials or employees seek illegitimate personal gain through actions such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. Political corruption is a specific form of rent seeking (which is not to be confused with property rental).
- Data corruption, or an unintended change to data in storage or in transit.
- Linguistic corruption, or the change in meaning to a language or a text introduced by cumulative errors in transcription or changes in the language speakers' comprehension.
- Putrefaction or decomposition of recently living matter. This physical process is the primary model of the metaphorical meaning of corruption, so advanced states of corruption in, e.g. a political structure are said to result in their putrefaction.