pay·​back | \ ˈpā-ˌbak How to pronounce payback (audio) \

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 Harvick laid in wait to deliver his payback on Elliott for Elliott costing him a win at Bristol three weeks ago., 11 Oct. 2021 The case against Brülhart smacks of personal payback—and that’s a problem for Pope Francis. Gerald Posner, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 In the most simplistic sense, UCLA has gotten its karmic payback in the last two weeks. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2021 And the payback has been speedy and significant – for investors and employees. Noah Barsky, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 These rules have been designed to allow heavier, pricier electric cars to be made with a healthy profit, but the payback meant regulations on small cars were tightened up. Neil Winton, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 There’s been a lot of criticism over the years about amateurs and hacks being named as ambassadors as payback for loyalty and campaign donations. Steve Lopez Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2021 According to Scott Blunk, SMUD’s strategic business planner of electrification and energy efficiency, the incentives can make the payback almost immediate. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 26 Feb. 2021 Still, compared with Disney’s bigger streaming mouth to feed — Disney Plus — Hulu is hampered by its U.S.-only confines in terms of payback on content investments. Todd Spangler, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for payback

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The first known use of payback was in 1718

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Dictionary Entries Near payback

pay a visit to


payback time

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Payback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on payback

Nglish: Translation of payback for Spanish Speakers


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