pe·​nal·​ize | \ˈpē-nə-ˌlīz, ˈpe- \
penalized; penalizing

Definition of penalize 

transitive verb

1 : to inflict a penalty on

2 : to put at a serious disadvantage

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Other Words from penalize

penalization \ˈpē-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for penalize


castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, discipline, punish


excuse, pardon, spare

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Examples of penalize in a Sentence

The company was penalized for not paying taxes. The hockey player was penalized for holding. This law would unfairly penalize immigrants.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In this paradigm, agents are dumped into virtual world, and rewarded for some outcomes (like increasing their score) and penalized for others (like losing a life). James Vincent, The Verge, "How teaching AI to be curious helps machines learn for themselves," 1 Nov. 2018 Last month the Jordanian government introduced an income tax bill aimed at widening the tax base, increasing the tax brackets, and penalizing those who do not pay. Marilia Brocchetto, CNN, "Hundreds protest in Jordan against austerity measures," 3 June 2018 The sanctions — against seven of Russia’s richest men and their companies as well as 17 top government officials — were aimed at penalizing those seen as enriching themselves from Mr. Putin’s government. New York Times, "Viktor Vekselberg, Russian Billionaire, Was Questioned by Mueller’s Investigators," 4 May 2018 Retailers who violate the law could be fined, but the state would no longer penalize those caught possessing tobacco while underage. Monique Garcia,, "Illinois Senate votes to raise minimum age to buy cigarettes, vaping devices to 21," 25 Apr. 2018 The District government failed to make sure that companies with city contracts hired unemployed residents as required by law and rarely penalized those who didn’t, according to an audit released Thursday. Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, "Audit: D.C. fails to enforce law requiring contractors to hire out-of-work residents," 19 Apr. 2018 In 2016, two senators proposed a bipartisan bill that would hold highly selective institutions accountable for enrolling and graduating more low-income students, penalizing those that repeatedly fail to boost their numbers with a fee. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "When Disadvantaged Students Overlook Elite Colleges," 18 Apr. 2018 The system sets up additional benchmarks, penalizing those who refer more than 15% of certain cases to higher courts, or judges who schedule hearing dates too far apart on their calendars. Washington Post,, "Trump administration, seeking to speed deportations, plans to impose quotas on immigration judges," 3 Apr. 2018 Ramos then penalized her with a second code violation resulting in the loss of a point. Zerlina Maxwell, Teen Vogue, "Serena Williams’ Treatment at the U.S. Open Is About More Than Tennis," 10 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'penalize.' 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 penalize

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for penalize

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for penalize

The first known use of penalize was in 1888

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English Language Learners Definition of penalize

: to punish (someone or something) for breaking a rule or a law

: to give (someone) an unfair disadvantage


pe·​nal·​ize | \ˈpē-nə-ˌlīz, ˈpe-\
penalized; penalizing

Kids Definition of penalize

: to give a penalty to You'll be penalized for cheating.

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More from Merriam-Webster on penalize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with penalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for penalize

Spanish Central: Translation of penalize

Nglish: Translation of penalize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penalize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on penalize

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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