reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal | \ ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio) \

Definition of reprisal

1a : the act or practice in international law of resorting to force short of war in retaliation for damage or loss suffered
b : an instance of such action
2 obsolete : prize
3 : the regaining of something (as by recapture)
4 : something (such as a sum of money) given or paid in restitution usually used in plural
5 : a retaliatory act

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Examples of reprisal in a Sentence

Enemy officers suffered harsh reprisals. The allies threatened economic reprisals against the invading country. The hostages were taken in reprisal for the bombing.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Many employees who attended Tuesday’s meeting found the report sorely lacking, according to several people who were at the meeting and spoke anonymously to avoid reprisal. David W. Chen, New York Times, "Harassment at WNYC Was Not ‘Systemic,’ Report Says," 24 Apr. 2018 But sources say that Gallagher had often berated Socolovsky, and that grievances either went unanswered or were met with what appeared to be reprisals. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Inside the Spectacular Implosion of Religion News Service," 27 Apr. 2018 Ahead of the announcement, veteran analysts at Evercore ISI reflected the view of many, predicting no quick reprisal from China. Bloomberg.com, "China's Rapid Response to Tariffs Raises Treasuries Risk, for Some," 5 Apr. 2018 Moving parts are made of lightweight aluminum, though Chevy won’t advertise that for fear of ad reprisal, while the bed and stationary parts are steel. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "15 must-see debuts, concept vehicles and displays at the Chicago Auto Show," 10 Feb. 2018 The series of meetings — an astonishing display of European envoys arriving one after the other — marked the latest twist in reprisal moves after the March 4 nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain. Matthew Bodner, BostonGlobe.com, "Russia tells string of European envoys of latest expulsions," 30 Mar. 2018 Some local police and residents have expressed concern that portraying the caravan as criminals has tarred its innocent members and exposed them to reprisals. Julie Watson, The Seattle Times, "Caravan migrants weigh options after court blocks Trump ban," 20 Nov. 2018 The main reason for not reporting is fear of reprisals by judicial authorities, criminals, and police, especially municipal police, who in many parts of Mexico collude with criminal gangs. Juan Montes, WSJ, "‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.," 14 Nov. 2018 The response highlighted the combined power of social media and video to help the police solve crimes, especially in places where many people are afraid to be seen talking to detectives for fear of reprisals by violent street crews and gangs. New York Times, "‘Disgusted’ by Video of Fatal Stabbing of Teen, Callers Flood Police Tip Line," 24 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reprisal.' 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 reprisal

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

History and Etymology for reprisal

Middle English reprisail, from Anglo-French reprisaile, from Medieval Latin represalia, from Old Italian rappresaglia, ultimately from ripreso, past participle of riprendere to take back, from ri- re- (from Latin re-) + prendere to take, from Latin prehendere — more at get

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Statistics for reprisal

Last Updated

27 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for reprisal

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

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More Definitions for reprisal

reprisal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of reprisal

: something that is done to hurt or punish someone who has hurt you or done something bad to you

reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal | \ ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio) \

Kids Definition of reprisal

: an act in return for harm done by another : an act of revenge

reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal | \ ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio) \

Legal Definition of reprisal

1a : the act or practice in international law of resorting to force short of war in retaliation for damage or loss suffered
b : an instance of such action
2 : a retaliatory act may not fire a complaining employee in reprisal

History and Etymology for reprisal

Anglo-French reprisaile reprisaille, from Middle French, from Old Italian ripresaglia, from ripreso, past participle of riprendere to take back, from ri- back + prendere to take, from Latin prehendere

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