noun pen·al·ty \ˈpe-nəl-tē\

: punishment for breaking a rule or law

: a disadvantage or difficulty you experience

: a punishment or disadvantage given to a team or player for breaking a rule in a game

plural pen·al·ties

Full Definition of PENALTY

:  the suffering in person, rights, or property that is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime or public offense
:  the suffering or the sum to be forfeited to which a person agrees to be subjected in case of nonfulfillment of stipulations
a :  disadvantage, loss, or hardship due to some action
b :  a disadvantage (as loss of yardage, time, or possession of the ball or an addition to or subtraction from the score) imposed on a team or competitor for violation of the rules of a sport
:  points scored in bridge by the side that defeats the opposing contract —usually used in plural
penalty adjective

Examples of PENALTY

  1. The company was given a severe penalty for the violation.
  2. They allowed him to pay back the money without a penalty.
  3. They allowed him to pay back the money without penalty.
  4. Lack of privacy is one of the penalties you pay for fame.
  5. The hockey player was given a penalty for holding.

Origin of PENALTY

Middle English penalte, from Middle French penalité, from Medieval Latin poenalitas, from Latin poenalis
First Known Use: 15th century
PENALTY Defined for Kids


noun pen·al·ty \ˈpe-nəl-tē\
plural pen·al·ties

Definition of PENALTY for Kids

:  punishment for doing something wrong
:  a disadvantage given for breaking a rule in a sport or game

Word Root of PENALTY

The Latin word poena, meaning punishment, gives us the root pen or pun. Words from the Latin poena have something to do with punishments. A penalty is a punishment for doing something wrong. Anything penal, such as a group of laws, explains punishments for specific crimes. Punish and punishment also come from poena.
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