pun·​ish·​ment | \ ˈpə-nish-mənt How to pronounce punishment (audio) \

Definition of punishment

1 : the act of punishing
2a : suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution
b : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
3 : severe, rough, or disastrous treatment

Examples of punishment in a Sentence

I took away my daughter's car keys as a punishment for her bad behavior. The punishments that the government has inflicted on the protesters are severe and unjust. The punishment for murder is life imprisonment. Some religions teach that wicked people will suffer eternal punishment in hell after they die.
Recent Examples on the Web However, if the leak was perpetrated by a justice directly, potential punishment is less clear. Devin Dwyer, ABC News, 6 May 2022 For those companies that deliver a miss, the punishment is severe. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 2 May 2022 Roberts’s mother was religious; and when her daughters misbehaved, the punishment was to read the family’s treasured, oversize King James version of the Bible, the one with the Victorian text. Emil Wilbekin, Essence, 29 Apr. 2022 The justice noted Gentry has since ended her relationship with Penrose and cited Gentry's ongoing alcohol abuse and mental health treatment as proof that further punishment isn't necessary. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 28 Apr. 2022 Smith has since been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, although Rose Rock doesn't seem to think that punishment is that bad. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 25 Apr. 2022 Way overkill, just … the punishment did not fit the crime. Lexy Perez, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Apr. 2022 Was this punishment the worst the Academy could hand out? Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 9 Apr. 2022 The mandatory punishment is life without parole, so Buggs is not likely to receive less time than that, said Lawrence Rosenthal, a law professor at Chapman University. Hannah Frystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of punishment

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for punishment

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The first known use of punishment was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Punishment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punishment. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for punishment


pun·​ish·​ment | \ ˈpə-nish-mənt How to pronounce punishment (audio) \

Kids Definition of punishment

1 : the act of making a wrongdoer suffer : the state of being made to suffer for wrongdoing
2 : the penalty for a wrong or crime



Legal Definition of punishment

1 : the act of punishing
2 : a penalty (as a fine or imprisonment) inflicted on an offender through the judicial and especially criminal process — see also cruel and unusual punishment

More from Merriam-Webster on punishment

Nglish: Translation of punishment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of punishment for Arabic Speakers


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