penalty

noun pen·al·ty \ ˈpe-nᵊl-tē \
Updated on: 7 Dec 2017

Definition of penalty

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

  1. The company was given a severe penalty for the violation.

  2. They allowed him to pay back the money without a penalty.

  3. They allowed him to pay back the money without penalty.

  4. Lack of privacy is one of the penalties you pay for fame.

  5. The hockey player was given a penalty for holding.

Recent Examples of penalty from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of penalty

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



PENALTY Defined for English Language Learners

penalty

noun

Definition of penalty for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

penalty

noun pen·al·ty \ ˈpe-nᵊl-tē \

Definition of penalty for Students

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

Word Root of penalty

The Latin word poena, meaning “punishment,” gives us the root pen or pun. Words from the Latin poena have something to do with punishments. A penalty is a punishment for doing something wrong. Anything penal, such as a group of laws, explains punishments for specific crimes. Punish and punishment also come from poena.


Law Dictionary

penalty

noun pen·al·ty \ ˈpen-ᵊl-tē \

legal Definition of penalty

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


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