pay·​back | \ˈpā-ˌbak \

Definition of payback 

1 : requital

2 : a return on an investment equal to the original capital outlay also : the period of time elapsed before an investment is recouped

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Examples of payback in a Sentence

They beat our team last year, so we've got to beat them this year as payback. we are hoping to get payback for the humiliating defeat we suffered at the hands of our rivals during our last matchup

Recent Examples on the Web

Penny personally attacks him and removes his own tattoo as payback, with the hope of killing him. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything That Happened On "Riverdale" Season 2," 8 Oct. 2018 Experts said the loans were unusually large, and the timing of the payback was strange. John Hanna, The Seattle Times, "Disputed primary pits low-key governor against flashy rival," 13 Aug. 2018 Any kid on the school yard will tell you that paybacks are hell. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: The Senate's path to confirming the next Supreme Court justice," 27 June 2018 The victory provided a bit of payback for Central, which suffered its only loss of the season May 25 to Bay by a 3-2 margin. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brookfield Central goes over the top to win sectional final soccer showdown with Whitefish Bay," 9 June 2018 The payback usually comes in the form of a single good idea, one productive change that fresh eyes will see while others, especially those sucking up for a promotion, won’t. Andy Kessler, WSJ, "Three Cheers for Internships," 22 Apr. 2018 With warnings in place after Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson was hit by a pitch by Dereck Rodríguez, Straily hit catcher Buster Posey with an apparent payback pitch in the second inning. Scott Boeck, USA TODAY, "MLB suspends Marlins pitcher Dan Straily, manager Don Mattingly for Buster Posey pitch," 21 June 2018 Holtby saw it as payback for the Capitals’ misfortunes in a seesaw 6-4 loss in Game 1. Helene Elliott,, "Gutsy Capitals crash Golden Knights' playoff party with 3-2 win in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final," 31 May 2018 ConocoPhillips seized Venezuelan oil export terminals around the Caribbean recently as payback for a nationalization of its investments, and more than a dozen Venezuelan tankers were forced to retreat to port. Clifford Krauss, New York Times, "Sanctions on Iran and Venezuela May Empower U.S. Rivals," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'payback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of payback

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for payback

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for payback

The first known use of payback was in 1718

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English Language Learners Definition of payback

: punishment for something that was done in the past

: an amount of money that you receive after investing in something and that is equal to or greater than the amount of money that you originally invested

: the amount of time that passes before invested money is returned or before money that is owed is paid

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More from Merriam-Webster on payback

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with payback

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for payback

Nglish: Translation of payback for Spanish Speakers

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