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verb pun·ish \ˈpə-nish\

Simple Definition of punish

  • : to make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior

  • : to make someone suffer for (a crime or bad behavior)

  • : to treat (someone or something) severely or roughly

Full Definition of punish

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation b :  to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation

  3. 2 a :  to deal with roughly or harshly b :  to inflict injury on :  hurt

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to inflict punishment

pun·ish·abil·i·ty play \ˌpə-nish-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
pun·ish·able play \ˈpə-nish-ə-bəl\ adjective
pun·ish·er noun

Examples of punish

  1. I think that murderers should be punished by life imprisonment.

  2. She was punished for lying.

  3. His parents punished him by taking away his allowance.

  4. How should I punish my child's misbehavior?

  5. State law punishes fraud with fines.

Origin of punish

Middle English punisshen, from Anglo-French puniss-, stem of punir, from Latin punire, from poena penalty — more at pain

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of punish

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing. punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing <punished for stealing>. chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation <chastised his son for neglecting his studies>. castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure <an editorial castigating the entire city council>. chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued <chastened by a landslide election defeat>. discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control <parents must discipline their children>. correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender <the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer>.

Rhymes with punish

PUNISH Defined for Kids


verb pun·ish \ˈpə-nish\

Definition of punish


  1. 1 :  to make suffer for a fault or crime <The child was punished for lying.>

  2. 2 :  to make someone suffer for (as a crime) <The law punishes theft.>

Word Root of punish

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.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up punish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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