pun·​ish | \ ˈpə-nish How to pronounce punish (audio) \
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 How to pronounce punish (audio) \ noun
punishable \ ˈpə-​nish-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce punish (audio) \ adjective
punisher noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for punish



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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

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 Omphroy has joined with Republicans on some key votes, including supporting a bill to require parental consent for minors seeking abortions and another that aims to punish Big Tech. Skyler Swisher, sun-sentinel.com, "Democrats fear Gov. DeSantis is planning a ‘power grab’ in Broward politics," 30 Apr. 2021 The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a high school cheerleader and some vulgar posts on Snapchat that could lead to new rules on when school officials can punish students for their speech. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, "Speaker McCarthy? Republicans have edge as redistricting starts," 30 Apr. 2021 McConnell's rationale for acquittal was that the US Constitution did not give the Senate the ability to punish a former president. Lanhee J. Chen, CNN, "Mitch McConnell may still get the last laugh," 30 Apr. 2021 The Texas move to punish the banks comes as Republicans nationally have criticized companies for stepping into politics. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Bank of America, Citigroup restrict loans to the gun industry so Texas is taking aim at their bottom line," 29 Apr. 2021 On that recent Sunday at The Arsenal, Belew’s sermon tackled the perspective of Jesus from the famous Bible passage where the Pharisees confront Christ with how to punish a woman accused of adultery. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, "From Army interrogator to pastor: The unlikely tale of how this tattooed motorcycle lover came to lead a Southtown church," 29 Apr. 2021 Trump has vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp, to punish his onetime ally for refusing to help the then-president’s efforts last year to overturn the election results in Georgia. Fox News, "Georgia Gov. Kemp argues Biden spending plans 'a year late' as states reopen," 29 Apr. 2021 China’s market regulator is preparing to punish social media firm Tencent for anticompetitive practices as part of China’s sweeping antitrust campaign against the country’s tech giants. Fortune, "China’s consumers are so over the pandemic," 29 Apr. 2021 Cities banned marches without permits and used police and militias to punish unlawful assembly. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian Magazine, "19th-Century America’s Partisan Warfare," 27 Apr. 2021

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for punish

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for punish

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Punish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punish. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce punish (audio) \
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.

Choose the Right Synonym for punish

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.

pun·​ish | \ ˈpə-nish How to pronounce punish (audio) \

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 How to pronounce punish (audio) \ noun
punishable \ ˈpə-​ni-​shə-​bəl How to pronounce punish (audio) \ adjective
punisher noun

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