reprisal

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

Definition of reprisal

1 : a retaliatory act
2 : the regaining of something (as by recapture)
3 : something (such as a sum of money) given or paid in restitution usually used in plural
4a : 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
5 obsolete : prize

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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 The most pivotal item will be, if Iran is proved to be behind the attacks, what kind of reprisals might be forthcoming? NBC News, "Saudi oil field attacks mean you will likely pay more at the pump," 16 Sep. 2019 But a dozen Trump Turnberry staff members, all speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the military stays have been a regular occurrence and, often, encompass surprisingly large groups. David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, "Inside the Military’s 5-Star Layovers at a Trump Resort in Scotland," 12 Sep. 2019 Local residents demanded anonymity for fear of reprisals. Samy Magdy, BostonGlobe.com, "Yemeni officials: Saudi-led airstrikes kill dozens in prison," 1 Sep. 2019 She and others spoke on the condition of anonymity in fear of reprisals. Washington Post, "Protesters focus on Hong Kong’s airport, snarling transport links after day of violence," 1 Sep. 2019 The attack on June 17 that wounded Abdul and his friends (his last name is being withheld to protect him from reprisals) also killed 30 people — eight of them children. Dionne Searcey, New York Times, "Boko Haram Is Back. With Better Drones.," 13 Sep. 2019 The reprisals have caused upheaval for South African businesses such as the telecommunications giant MTN and grocery chains Shoprite and Pick n Pay—among the country’s largest companies. David Meyer, Fortune, "Arson, Looting and Xenophobic Attacks: Why Tension Is Rising Between Africa’s 2 Biggest Economies," 5 Sep. 2019 Hezbollah militants on Sunday fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles into Israel, prompting a reprisal of heavy Israeli artillery fire in a rare burst of fighting between the bitter enemies who fought a monthlong war in 2006. Washington Post, "Diplomats: US blocks UN statement on Israel-Hezbollah fire," 5 Sep. 2019 The bids to reopen the ivory trade and, alternatively, eliminate any international sales of elephants and their parts for commercial use were reprisals of similar proposals three years ago at the last major CITES conference. National Geographic, "Elephant ivory trade talks heat up in Geneva," 23 Aug. 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 4a

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

6 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce reprisal (audio)

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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