Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

reprisal

play
noun re·pri·sal \ri-ˈprī-zəl\

Simple Definition of reprisal

  • : something that is done to hurt or punish someone who has hurt you or done something bad to you

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of reprisal

  1. 1 a :  the act or practice in international law of resorting to force short of war in retaliation for damage or loss suffered b :  an instance of such action

  2. 2 obsolete :  prize

  3. 3 :  the regaining of something (as by recapture)

  4. 4 :  something (as a sum of money) given or paid in restitution —usually used in plural

  5. 5 :  a retaliatory act

Examples of reprisal in a sentence

  1. Enemy officers suffered harsh reprisals.

  2. The allies threatened economic reprisals against the invading country.

  3. The hostages were taken in reprisal for the bombing.



Origin of reprisal

Middle English reprisail, from Anglo-French reprisaile, from Medieval Latin represalia, from Old Italian rappresaglia, ultimately from ripreso, past participle of riprendere to take back, from ri- re- (from Latin re-) + prendere to take, from Latin prehendere — more at get


First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with reprisal


REPRISAL Defined for Kids

reprisal

play
noun re·pri·sal \ri-ˈprī-zəl\

Definition of reprisal for Students

  1. :  an act in return for harm done by another :  an act of revenge




Law Dictionary

reprisal

play
noun re·pri·sal \ri-ˈprī-zəl\

Legal Definition of reprisal

  1. 1a :  the act or practice in international law of resorting to force short of war in retaliation for damage or loss suffered b :  an instance of such action

  2. 2 :  a retaliatory act <may not fire a complaining employee in reprisal>



Origin of reprisal

Anglo-French reprisaile reprisaille, from Middle French, from Old Italian ripresaglia, from ripreso, past participle of riprendere to take back, from ri- back + prendere to take, from Latin prehendere



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

tending to dismiss important matters

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex soothe disapprove reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ