reprisal

noun

re·​pri·​sal ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio)
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
4
a
: 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Lena, who gave only her first name for fear of reprisal, started to cry. Valerie Hopkins, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024 This would meaningfully degrade Iranian combat capacity, signal America’s willingness to escalate, and come with only limited risk of strategic reprisals. Seth Cropsey, National Review, 10 Feb. 2024 Hamas used the raid as an excuse to target Jerusalem with rockets, which brought yet more violence in Israel and another round of Israeli reprisals in Gaza. Aluf Benn, Foreign Affairs, 7 Feb. 2024 But even as Trump spewed fiery threats, his administration was attempting to stave off reprisals from Iran that could have spun things out of control. Bryan Pietsch, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2024 Citizen Lab confirmed all but five of the infections, with 21 victims asking to remain anonymous, citing the risk of reprisal. TIME, 1 Feb. 2024 If Nasrallah were to attack Israel, he would be held responsible for the inevitable Israeli reprisals and the potential devastation not only of his Shia constituents in southern Lebanon but of Beirut. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 14 Jan. 2024 But by the mid-1950s, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser began using them for proxy raids against Israel, thus beginning the cycle of attacks and reprisals that is so closely associated with the territory today. Jean-Pierre Filiu, Foreign Affairs, 1 Jan. 2024 Some states and school districts have issued guidance to their educators on this issue, with some teachers feeling supported in their efforts to tackle the sensitive matter with their students, while others fear backlash or reprisal. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 21 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

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

Dictionary Entries Near reprisal

Cite this Entry

“Reprisal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reprisal. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio)
1
: the use of force short of war by one nation against another in return for damage or loss suffered
economic reprisals
2
: an act of getting back at especially in war

Legal Definition

reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal ri-ˈprī-zəl How to pronounce reprisal (audio)
1
a
: 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
Etymology

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

More from Merriam-Webster on reprisal

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