reprisal

noun re·pri·sal \ ri-ˈprī-zəl \
Updated on: 22 May 2018

Definition of reprisal

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 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

Examples of reprisal in a Sentence

  1. Enemy officers suffered harsh reprisals.

  2. The allies threatened economic reprisals against the invading country.

  3. The hostages were taken in reprisal for the bombing.

Recent Examples of reprisal from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

REPRISAL Defined for English Language Learners

reprisal

Definition of reprisal for English Language Learners

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


REPRISAL Defined for Kids

reprisal

noun re·pri·sal \ ri-ˈprī-zəl \

Definition of reprisal for Students

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

Law Dictionary

reprisal

noun re·pri·sal \ ri-ˈprī-zəl \

legal Definition of reprisal

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

Origin and Etymology of 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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up reprisal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

talkative or wordy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!