pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \
punished; punishing; punishes

Definition of punish 

transitive verb

1a : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation

b : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation

2a : to deal with roughly or harshly

b : to inflict injury on : hurt

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Other Words from punish

punishability \ˌpə-nish-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
punishable \ˈpə-nish-ə-bəl \ adjective
punisher noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for punish


castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, discipline, penalize


excuse, pardon, spare

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Choose the Right Synonym for punish

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing. punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing. punished for stealing chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation. chastised his son for neglecting his studies castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure. an editorial castigating the entire city council chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued. chastened by a landslide election defeat discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control. parents must discipline their children correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender. the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

punish and discipline mean to put a penalty on someone for doing wrong. punish means giving some kind of pain or suffering to the wrongdoer often rather than trying to reform the person. The criminals were punished with life imprisonment. discipline is used of punishing the wrongdoer but usually includes an effort to bring the person under control. Parents must discipline their children.

Examples of punish in a Sentence

I think that murderers should be punished by life imprisonment. She was punished for lying. His parents punished him by taking away his allowance. How should I punish my child's misbehavior? State law punishes fraud with fines.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The program implicitly punishes people with lower debt burdens. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "Win a Game Show, Pay Off Your Student Debt," 12 July 2018 God will punish them,’’ said a 50-year-old villager who returned to check on her home. Albert Aji, BostonGlobe.com, "Syrian troops celebrate recapture of Jordan border crossing," 7 July 2018 Even these companies need to rely on, say, raw aluminum to make their aluminum products, and so they could be punished on the back end by retaliatory tariffs. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why you should give a shit about Trump’s tariffs, explained by an economic historian," 6 July 2018 Brazil were unusually wasteful in the first half and they were nearly punished when Belgium had a goal harshly ruled out for no apparent reason - a reflection of the quality of refereeing for the entire tournament. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Brazil vs Belgium - Previous Meeting, Team News, Predictions & More," 5 July 2018 As late as the mid-20th century, some teachers in the United States punished students for writing with their left hand. Tom Avril, Philly.com, "Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez can throw with either hand. What does that say about his brain?," 3 July 2018 Finally, don’t punish them for being afraid, but don’t overly console them or act anxious yourself. Southern Living, "How to Keep Dogs Calm During Fireworks," 3 July 2018 For instance, in the football draw, why punish two teams who have 9-0 seasons by pitting them against each other in the first game? Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "What would you change if you were IHSAA commissioner for a day?," 30 June 2018 Both children said their mother would watch when they were being punished. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Indiana couple accused of keeping two children tied up in garage with choking device," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of punish

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for punish

Middle English punisshen, from Anglo-French puniss-, stem of punir, from Latin punire, from poena penalty — more at pain

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Statistics for punish

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for punish

The first known use of punish was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for punish



English Language Learners Definition of punish

: to make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior

: to make someone suffer for (a crime or bad behavior)

: to treat (someone or something) severely or roughly


pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \
punished; punishing

Kids Definition of punish

1 : to make suffer for a fault or crime The child was punished for lying.

2 : to make someone suffer for (as a crime) The law punishes theft.

pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \

Legal Definition of punish 

1 : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation

2 : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation or as a deterrent

intransitive verb

: to inflict punishment

Other Words from punish

punishability \ˌpə-ni-shə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
punishable \ˈpə-ni-shə-bəl \ adjective
punisher noun

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