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3 definitions found
 for Rotten borough
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Rotten \Rot"ten\, a. [Icel. rotinn; akin to Sw. rutten, Dan.
     radden. See Rot.]
     Having rotted; putrid; decayed; as, a rotten apple; rotten
     meat. Hence:
     (a) Offensive to the smell; fetid; disgusting.
         [1913 Webster]
  
               You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
               As reek of the rotten fens.          --Shak.
         [1913 Webster]
     (b) Not firm or trusty; unsound; defective; treacherous;
         unsafe; as, a rotten plank, bone, stone. "The deepness of
         the rotten way." --Knolles.
         [1913 Webster]
  
     Rotten borough. See under Borough.
  
     Rotten stone (Min.), a soft stone, called also Tripoli
        (from the country from which it was formerly brought),
        used in all sorts of finer grinding and polishing in the
        arts, and for cleaning metallic substances. The name is
        also given to other friable siliceous stones applied to
        like uses.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Syn: Putrefied; decayed; carious; defective; unsound;
          corrupt; deceitful; treacherous.
          [1913 Webster] -- Rot"ten*ly, adv. -- Rot"ten*ness,
          n.
          [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Borough \Bor"ough\, n. [OE. burgh, burw, boru, port, town,
     burrow, AS. burh, burg; akin to Icel., Sw., & Dan. borg, OS.
     & D. burg, OHG. puruc, purc, MHG. burc, G. burg, Goth.
     ba['u]rgs; and from the root of AS. beorgan to hide, save,
     defend, G. bergen; or perh. from that of AS. beorg hill,
     mountain. [root]95. See Bury, v. t., and cf. Burrow,
     Burg, Bury, n., Burgess, Iceberg, Borrow, Harbor,
     Hauberk.]
     1. In England, an incorporated town that is not a city; also,
        a town that sends members to parliament; in Scotland, a
        body corporate, consisting of the inhabitants of a certain
        district, erected by the sovereign, with a certain
        jurisdiction; in America, an incorporated town or village,
        as in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. --Burrill. --Erskine.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     2. The collective body of citizens or inhabitants of a
        borough; as, the borough voted to lay a tax.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Close borough, or Pocket borough, a borough having the
        right of sending a member to Parliament, whose nomination
        is in the hands of a single person.
  
     Rotten borough, a name given to any borough which, at the
        time of the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, contained
        but few voters, yet retained the privilege of sending a
        member to Parliament.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  rotten borough
      n 1: an English parliamentary constituency with few electors

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