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rec·​om·​pense ˈre-kəm-ˌpen(t)s How to pronounce recompense (audio)
recompensed; recompensing

transitive verb

: to give something to by way of compensation (as for a service rendered or damage incurred)
: to pay for
: to return in kind : requite


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: an equivalent or a return for something done, suffered, or given : compensation
offered in recompense for injuries
Choose the Right Synonym for recompense

pay, compensate, remunerate, satisfy, reimburse, indemnify, repay, recompense mean to give money or its equivalent in return for something.

pay implies the discharge of an obligation incurred.

paid their bills

compensate implies a making up for services rendered.

an attorney well compensated for her services

remunerate clearly suggests paying for services rendered and may extend to payment that is generous or not contracted for.

promised to remunerate the searchers handsomely

satisfy implies paying a person what is required by law.

all creditors will be satisfied in full

reimburse implies a return of money that has been spent for another's benefit.

reimbursed employees for expenses

indemnify implies making good a loss suffered through accident, disaster, warfare.

indemnified the families of the dead miners

repay stresses paying back an equivalent in kind or amount.

repay a favor with a favor

recompense suggests due return in amends, friendly repayment, or reward.

passengers were recompensed for the delay

Example Sentences

Verb the cash-strapped museum can recompense lecturers with only token honorariums that company still needs to recompense the work that the contractor finished last month Noun He is asking for a just recompense for the work he's done. He received $10,000 in recompense for his injuries.
Recent Examples on the Web
Thurber complained to him about being asked to recompense The New Yorker for a sixty-dollar overpayment; writers got paid by the word (still do), and the accounting department had calculated that the final word count on a certain Thurber story was less than the original word count. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, 7 Jan. 2023 European countries like Germany and the UK have shored up money for their violent role in suppressing Namibian and Kenyan protests, but the Netherlands is the first to publicly acknowledge and recompense for slavery. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 23 Sep. 2022 That date is when the Biden administration's requirement that private insurance companies recompense those who buy over-the-counter COVID tests goes into effect. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 10 Jan. 2022 In a professional setting, a favorable recommendation for a job well done — while certainly appreciated — should not be recompensed with a present. Judith Martin, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2019
The playful universe seemed to be offering recompense: The ground is no longer solid beneath your feet. Ada Calhoun, Vogue, 21 Mar. 2023 True Grit, then, could be seen as a kind of offer in recompense, a tribute to these women and their stern elegance. Will Stephenson, Harper’s Magazine , 13 Mar. 2023 His advocates contend the case could help determine whether the federal government can be held liable for systemic prejudices that, over generations, have disadvantaged Black Americans who served in the military and their families, potentially clearing a path for others to seek recompense. Alex Horton,, 28 Nov. 2022 Without a single nickel of recompense—to survivors (among which was my father) or their descendants. Roy S. Johnson |, al, 23 June 2022 Now their families must fight for recompense. Amy Hubbard, Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2022 The protests on view from Latin America to the Middle East reflect mounting unemployment, as jobs in the informal economy vanished with no recompense, and hunger as food prices spiked, as well as the backsliding of millions of people around the world into poverty. Washington Post, 30 July 2021 To them no recompense can be made. William Darity, Rolling Stone, 19 June 2021 And there's no recompense for this. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, 30 May 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recompense.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French recompenser, from Late Latin recompensare, from Latin re- + compensare to compensate

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recompense was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near recompense

Cite this Entry

“Recompense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


recompensed; recompensing
: to pay for or pay back
recompense noun

More from Merriam-Webster on recompense

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