reprisal

noun
re·​pri·​sal | \ ri-ˈprī-zəl \

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

Some local police and residents have expressed concern that portraying the caravan as criminals has tarred its innocent members and exposed them to reprisals. Julie Watson, The Seattle Times, "Caravan migrants weigh options after court blocks Trump ban," 20 Nov. 2018 The main reason for not reporting is fear of reprisals by judicial authorities, criminals, and police, especially municipal police, who in many parts of Mexico collude with criminal gangs. Juan Montes, WSJ, "‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.," 14 Nov. 2018 The response highlighted the combined power of social media and video to help the police solve crimes, especially in places where many people are afraid to be seen talking to detectives for fear of reprisals by violent street crews and gangs. New York Times, "‘Disgusted’ by Video of Fatal Stabbing of Teen, Callers Flood Police Tip Line," 24 June 2018 The individual spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi prince to address summit darkened by Khashoggi slaying," 24 Oct. 2018 The activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, says the militants consider the pro-democracy protesters heretics. Fox News, "The Latest: Company says systems will help protect Syria," 28 Sep. 2018 Israeli security officials say the military already has gone on heightened alert this week, fearing an Iranian reprisal. Washington Post, "Nuclear deal’s opponents seek tougher stance on Iran," 9 May 2018 The former female employees were animators, story managers, storyboard artists, directors' assistants and others who worked at Pixar over the last decade and who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. David Ng, latimes.com, "Will animation legend John Lasseter return to Disney-Pixar after a six-month leave?," 8 May 2018 The report, which Smithberger reviewed, indicates problems may be deeper at Quantico because several employees feared reprisal over lodging complaints. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, "Sexual harassment, racism and a secret settlement at the 'Crossroads of the Marine Corps,' report shows," 7 Mar. 2018

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

2 Jan 2019

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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 \

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 \

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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