penalty

noun
pen·​al·​ty | \ ˈpe-nᵊl-tē How to pronounce penalty (audio) \
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

An agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA specified the firm's payment would be restitution, not a penalty. Kevin Mccoy, USA TODAY, "'Clearly a game.' Opioid lawsuit settlements arranged to give drug companies a tax break, experts say," 12 Sep. 2019 McNair has been out of football for nine years—he was caught up in the Reggie Bush scandal at USC after seven years as running backs coach there, and dealt a show-cause penalty by the NCAA. Albert Breer, SI.com, "Mike Zimmer and the Vikings May Deserve More Hype This Season Than Last," 12 Sep. 2019 The second drive reached Hawaii’s 38 before stalling on a holding penalty. oregonlive, "Oregon State offense ready to show second half against Hawaii is an aberration, not a trend," 11 Sep. 2019 Coaches challenged this play only four times in the 16 games, and only one call was overturned: Tampa Bay challenged an incomplete pass and won, with Richard Sherman being given a defensive pass interference penalty. BostonGlobe.com, "But for several teams with big expectations, Week 1 was kind of a dud.," 11 Sep. 2019 The evergreen 34-year-old scored a first-half penalty and a second-half hat-trick to take his tally for his country to 93, just 16 behind Iranian legend Ali Daei's total of 109. Matias Grez, CNN, "Cristiano Ronaldo hits four against Lithuania and nears all-time goals record," 11 Sep. 2019 After playing in two games last season and retaining his redshirt, Collins carried eight times for 17 yards in the opener against Tulsa and had a 14-yard touchdown negated by a penalty. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football's Elijah Collins: Starting RB job 'everything that I've lived for'," 11 Sep. 2019 Negative policy interest rates force them to pay to keep money in those accounts, a penalty aimed at pushing them to lend more and goose the economy. Jeanna Smialek, New York Times, "Trump Wants Negative Rates. Here’s How That Would Work.," 11 Sep. 2019 Witness the athleticism and effort of Leonard Floyd, who had two sacks and a third negated by a Kyle Fuller penalty. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "What’s the formula for a Bears rebound against the Broncos in Week 2 — and for the rest of the season?," 10 Sep. 2019

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

15 Sep 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 How to pronounce penalty (audio) \
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 How to pronounce penalty (audio) \
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

self-evident

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!