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 Several stores on the block are boarded up, and the New York Post reported that many owners and workers were afraid to comment about the dire situation due to fear of reprisal. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Black business owners at George Floyd Square pleading for help as crime spikes and revenue plummets," 23 Apr. 2021 Ringsmuth maintains that Macintosh has a right to speak to her local government officials without fear of reprisal. Annie Doyle, Detroit Free Press, "Grand Traverse woman concerned for safety after gun flashing incident on Zoom," 14 Apr. 2021 Entrepreneurs began to leave, too, including a manager for a tourism company who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Washington Post, "As Myanmar unravels after military coup, people flee cities for rural backwaters," 29 Mar. 2021 Medhat, like many who spoke to CNN, didn't want his name published for fear of reprisal. Lina El Wardani, CNN, "All hands on deck as Suez locals ply food and wares to growing numbers of hungry, stranded crews," 29 Mar. 2021 Speaking out, even from here, can carry grave risks of reprisal by China, which is why many choose to stay silent. Washington Post, "Their Uyghur relatives are imprisoned in China. From Virginia, they plead for help.," 19 Mar. 2021 The rhetoric has only grown more heated since, with reports that some sort of reprisal may come in the next three weeks. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "‘Retaliation’ for Russia's SolarWinds Spying Isn't the Answer," 8 Mar. 2021 The deputies, who do not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, claim the most prevalent are called the Banditos — comprised of mostly Latino deputies who serve predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods. CBS News, "Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies say gangs targeting "young Latinos" operate within department," 25 Feb. 2021 Ehrlich is also plotting a reprisal of his radio career as a way to expand his influence. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Former Maryland Gov. Ehrlich dips into local politics, but keeps his eye focused on the national scene," 28 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for reprisal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for reprisal

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reprisal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reprisal. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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