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

Two people with personal knowledge of FDA enforcement, who decline to be named for fear of reprisals, say that under Trump, DOJ has blocked numerous strong injunction requests from FDA. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "Exclusive: FDA enforcement actions plummet under Trump," 2 July 2019 Then the government left the village out to dry; Shining Path guerrillas killed hundreds of the villagers in reprisals before the army got around to sending reinforcements. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 Discussions within the Revolutionary Guards, a powerful wing of Iran’s armed forces, are highly secretive, and the people who described those discussions spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, "Iranian Force Exults in Downing of U.S. Drone With a Feast and a Prayer," 22 June 2019 Unidentified gunmen on motorbikes attacked two villages in central Mali, killing at least 41 people in a part of the country where ethnic reprisal attacks have surged in recent months, a local mayor said Tuesday. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 18, 2019," 18 June 2019 Law and Justice, the nationalist party that rules Poland and dominates local politics in Belchatow, has made the quality of Polish coal a patriotic cause (one critic refuses to give a quote for fear of reprisals). The Economist, "Environmentalism is emerging as Europe’s new culture war," 29 June 2019 New workers have been seen in the past days to replace those who took part in the strike,’’ an airport worker said on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal. Bassam Hatoum, BostonGlobe.com, "Sudan’s protesters launch general strike after crackdown," 9 June 2019 Reached by phone, a jail deputy under Le’s command, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, said she was dismayed by how Le was treated, given her three decades on the job. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, "Former Santa Clara County jail union president placed on leave amid vague circumstances," 3 June 2019 Rumors spread that Javed, who sometimes translated for the British army, was serving as an informant, and his relatives became targets of violent reprisals. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019

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

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on reprisal

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