penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty | \ ˈpe-nᵊl-tē \
plural penalties

Definition of penalty

1 : the suffering in person, rights, or property that is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime or public offense trespassing forbidden under penalty of imprisonment
2 : the suffering or the sum to be forfeited to which a person agrees to be subjected in case of nonfulfillment of stipulations A penalty was imposed on the contractor for breach of contract.
3a : disadvantage, loss, or hardship due to some action Loss of privacy is one of the penalties you pay for fame.
b : a disadvantage (such as loss of yardage, time, or possession of the ball or an addition to or subtraction from the score) imposed on a team or competitor for violation of the rules of a sport The team was given a penalty for the foul.
4 : points scored in bridge by the side that defeats the opposing contract usually used in plural

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from penalty

penalty adjective

Examples of penalty in a Sentence

The company was given a severe penalty for the violation. They allowed him to pay back the money without a penalty. They allowed him to pay back the money without penalty. Lack of privacy is one of the penalties you pay for fame. The hockey player was given a penalty for holding.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Warner accused the White House of being very slow to put in place the penalties. Darlene Superville, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s weekend: New Russia questions, shutdown irritants," 14 Jan. 2019 Others, who may plead their innocence to no avail, are exonerated after the procedure has been carried out; this fact has led even the creator of the three-drug cocktail to reconsider his views about the death penalty. Abdullah Shihipar, Teen Vogue, "Lethal Injection Drugs and the Death Penalty, Explained," 30 Oct. 2018 Anyone who kills a police officer should get the death penalty. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Missouri police officer killed, 2 others wounded in shooting; suspect dead," 2 Oct. 2018 The letter pushes for answers from Kavanaugh on five topics: Health care, immigration, labor rights, voting discrimination, and the death penalty. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "This Nun Has Some Questions for Trump's Supreme Court Pick, and They Aren't About Abortion," 4 Sep. 2018 The death penalty should be reserved for people who have lost their humanity. Rafael Olmeda, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Final plea for mercy before jury weighs death penalty in murder of Broward deputy," 13 July 2018 Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of murder; prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Secret Service urges U.S. schools to set up 'threat teams' to prevent shootings," 12 July 2018 Bice said Alvogen does not take a position on the death penalty itself but opposes the use of the drug in a way that is fundamentally contrary to its purpose — saving and improving lives. Author: Ken Ritter, Michelle L. Price, Anchorage Daily News, "Execution blocked after company objects to use of its drug," 12 July 2018 The 19-year-old is facing the death penalty for killing 17 people and wounding 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Nicholas Nehamas And David Ovalle, miamiherald, "‘I can go shoot them.’ Another threat from Parkland school shooter went ignored.," 11 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for penalty

Middle English penalte, from Middle French penalité, from Medieval Latin poenalitas, from Latin poenalis

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penalty

Statistics for penalty

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penalty

The first known use of penalty was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penalty

penalty

noun

English Language Learners Definition of penalty

: punishment for breaking a rule or law

: a disadvantage or difficulty you experience

: a punishment or disadvantage given to a team or player for breaking a rule in a game

penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty | \ ˈpe-nᵊl-tē \
plural penalties

Kids Definition of penalty

1 : punishment for doing something wrong
2 : a disadvantage given for breaking a rule in a sport or game

penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty | \ ˈpen-ᵊl-tē \
plural penalties

Legal Definition of penalty

1 : a punishment that is imposed on a wrongdoer by statute or judicial decision
2 : a pecuniary sum that by agreement is to be paid by a party who fails to fulfill an obligation to another and that is punitive rather than compensatory the court declined to enforce the contractual penalty and determined actual damages instead

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on penalty

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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