An instance wherein an illegal payment is made to an individual in a position of authority in order to gain favors or influence is referred to as a bribe. A bribe may also be known colloquially as a payoff, since the intent of the act is to pay off an individual in exchange for a favor or influence.
A bribe is one of the most common forms of corruption exercised in society. It can appear in any societal institution, whether political, economic, cultural, or social. A bribe is not necessarily limited to the definition of payment of money. The scope of a bribe may also include bestowing a favor upon an individual in the hopes of gaining a favor from that individual. A bribe is considered to be a criminal offense in most states or nations. However, it is difficult to prosecute someone upon bribery charges because it can be argued that it was a tip rather than a bribe.
Legal definitions of a bribe also include the implication of money or some other form of compensation, and not just the actual giving of money or favors in exchange for something the briber may want. The purpose of a bribe is to influence the behavior of the recipient in a manner that benefits the giver or briber.
Bribes can exist in almost every area of profession or industry. However, it is mostly publicized in the areas of sports, business, and politics. When individuals who bribe or receive a bribe are caught, they are subject to criminal charges and subsequent punishment.