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

Synonyms & Antonyms for penalty

Synonyms

despite, detriment, disadvantage, disfavor

Antonyms

advantage, favor

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The Senate last month approved, as part of a larger defense bill, a measure that would reinstate tough penalties on the company. Claire Ballentine, New York Times, "U.S. Lifts Ban That Kept ZTE From Doing Business With American Suppliers," 13 July 2018 Perhaps more importantly, Croatia went to extra-time in all three of its knockout-round games, including penalty shootouts against Denmark and Russia. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "How the World Cup final between France and Croatia will be won," 13 July 2018 Croatia endured two penalty shootouts and another extra-time victory. Shaun Goodwin, kansascity, "France or Croatia? A World Cup Q&A with Sporting KC’s Johnny Russell," 12 July 2018 Yerry Mina's stoppage time equaliser in that game pushed the odds back to 6/1, while England were then briefly at an enormous 20/1 after Jordan Henderson missed in the penalty shootout meant that the team's chances suddenly were hanging by a thread. SI.com, "Timeline of Hope and Glory: How England's Odds of Winning the World Cup Have Changed in 6 Months," 11 July 2018 Tired legs While England eased through the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Sweden, Croatia was forced into a penalty shootout against Russia after finishing extra time at 2-2. baltimoresun.com, "England vs. Croatia: What to watch for in today's World Cup semifinal," 11 July 2018 The fatigue of back-to-back penalty shootouts for Croatia could also become a factor. Jamie Spencer, Pro Soccer USA, "World Cup preview Croatia vs England: Head to Head, Team News, Prediction & More," 11 July 2018 Versus Colombia, in this year’s round-of-16, England won its first-ever penalty shootout. Sean Williams, The New Republic, "England’s World Cup Team: the Anti-Brexit," 10 July 2018 In 1998, a defender — Laurent Blanc — scored in the first knockout game to defeat Paraguay in extra time; and Barthez saved France in a tense penalty shootout against Italy in the quarterfinals. Jerome Pugmire, The Seattle Times, "Superb defense takes France close to another World Cup title," 10 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

Phrases Related to penalty

the death penalty

Statistics for penalty

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
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!