Simple Definition of punitive
: intended to punish someone or something
: extremely or unfairly severe or high
Full Definition of punitive
: inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment <severe punitive measures>
Examples of punitive in a sentence
The federal government will take punitive action against the company that polluted the river.
Lobbyists complain that the bill would impose punitive taxes on the industry.
Origin of punitive
French punitif, from Medieval Latin punitivus, from Latin punitus, past participle of punire
First Known Use: 1624
Rhymes with punitive
Legal Definition of punitive
: inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment
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