penalty

noun

pen·​al·​ty ˈpe-nᵊl-tē How to pronounce penalty (audio)
plural penalties
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.
3
a
: 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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Numerous criminologists the Herald spoke with said that the decline in juvenile arrests is not because of Florida’s harsh penalties. Shirsho Dasgupta, Miami Herald, 27 June 2024 Hamilton County dog owners who don’t have a dog license can get one until July 3 without penalty, the auditor’s office announced Monday. Killian Baarlaer, The Enquirer, 27 June 2024 The court said the 7th Amendment and its right to a jury trial is not limited to private lawsuits, but extends to suits brought by the government seeking fines or penalties for violating the law. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2024 Conspiracy to bribe a juror carries a penalty of up to five years in prison; corruptly influencing a juror carries up to 10 years; and bribery of a juror carries up to 15 years. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 26 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for penalty 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penalty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near penalty

Cite this Entry

“Penalty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/penalty. Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty ˈpen-ᵊl-tē How to pronounce penalty (audio)
plural penalties
1
: punishment for a crime or offense
2
: something forfeited when one fails to do what one has agreed to do
3
: disadvantage, loss, or hardship due to some action or condition
4
: a punishment or handicap given for breaking a rule in a sport or game

Legal Definition

penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty ˈpen-ᵊl-tē How to pronounce penalty (audio)
plural penalties
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

More from Merriam-Webster on penalty

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