Definition of punitive
: inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment severe punitive measures
Examples of punitive in a sentence
The federal government will take punitive action against the company that polluted the river.
Lobbyists complain that the bill would impose punitive taxes on the industry.
Did You Know?
Punitive is an important word in the law. When you sue a person or company for having wronged you in some way, you normally ask for something of value equal to what you were deprived of by the other party. But when the defendant has done something particularly bad, you may also ask for punitive damages, money over and above the actual cost of the harm done, intended to teach the defendant a lesson. Punitive damages are fairly rare, but when they're actually granted they may be as much as four times the size of the basic damages.
Origin and Etymology of punitive
French punitif, from Medieval Latin punitivus, from Latin punitus, past participle of punire
First Known Use: 1593
PUNITIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of punitive for English Language Learners
: intended to punish someone or something
: extremely or unfairly severe or high
Legal Definition of punitive
: inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment
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