pe·​nal·​ize | \ ˈpē-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce penalize (audio) , ˈpe- How to pronounce penalize (audio) \
penalized; penalizing

Definition of penalize

transitive verb

1 : to inflict a penalty on
2 : to put at a serious disadvantage

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from penalize

penalization \ ˈpē-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce penalize (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for penalize



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web In the absence of spectators, referees were less likely to penalize the visiting teams—for example, by giving out yellow or red cards—and the home teams had less match dominance (as measured by the number of direct attempts to score a goal). Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "Home Advantage Doesn’t Require Crowds, COVID Pro Soccer Matches Show," 31 Mar. 2021 On Friday, Emmert told USA Today that the NCAA would not penalize athletes who, like Livers did Saturday, wore unlicensed gear during tournament contests featuring the viral hashtag. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Michigan's Isaiah Livers sports '#NotNCAAProperty" shirt on sidelines of first-round win," 21 Mar. 2021 The federal government is offering states permission to not sanction or penalize districts based on poor grades from the tests or low attendance on testing days. cleveland, "Ohio lawmakers scrambling to change standardized testing deadlines weeks before they begin," 26 Feb. 2021 Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, also received backlash from GOP colleagues in the House, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who traveled to Wyoming last week to urge GOP authorities to penalize her for her conduct. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "Liz Cheney: Trump no longer Republican Party leader," 7 Feb. 2021 Critics say it’s cruel and would penalize even nonpartisan groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line. Ben Nadler And Jeff Amy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Georgia’s new GOP election explained: What it does and doesn't do," 4 Apr. 2021 Or failing that, maintain the regulated market but penalize companies for power losses. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "In the high-stakes game of electricity reform, let’s push all poker chips to the center of the table," 1 Apr. 2021 Another measure, House Bill 6613, would require municipal zoning panels to adopt regulations allowing for accessory apartments and multifamily housing and penalize towns that do not do so by Oct. 1. Eliza Fawcett,, "Connecticut is divided into largely white suburbs and cities where more people of color live. Here’s how advocates want to rewrite local zoning rules to change that," 31 Mar. 2021 Critics say it’s cruel and would penalize even nonpartisan groups or individuals for something as simple as giving water to someone waiting in a long line. Ben Nadler And Jeff Amy,, "What does Georgia’s new GOP-sponsored election law do?," 26 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of penalize

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penalize

Time Traveler for penalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of penalize was in 1888

See more words from the same year

Statistics for penalize

Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penalize



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 How to pronounce penalize (audio) , ˈpe- \
penalized; penalizing

Kids Definition of penalize

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!