re·​quite ri-ˈkwīt How to pronounce requite (audio)
requited; requiting

transitive verb

: to make return for : repay
: to make retaliation for : avenge
: to make suitable return to for a benefit or service or for an injury
requiter noun

Did you know?

You might be familiar with the phrase "unrequited love." Love that has not been requited is love that has not been returned or paid back in kind, which brings us to the common denominator in the above definitions for requite—the idea of repayment, recompense, or retribution. The quite in requite is a now obsolete English verb meaning "to quit" or "to pay." (Quite is also related to the English verb quit, the oldest meanings of which include "to pay up" and "to set free.") Quiten, the Middle English source of quite, can be traced back through Anglo-French to Latin quietus, meaning "quiet" or "at rest," a word which is also an ancestor of the English word quiet.

Choose the Right Synonym for requite

reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity.

reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received.

reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit

retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully.

the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners

requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently.

requited her love with cold indifference

return implies a paying or giving back.

returned their call
return good for evil

Examples of requite in a Sentence

the company requited the employee who had fallen on the ice while leaving work by promptly paying all his medical bills, hoping that would stave off a lawsuit the future writer would later requite the abuse he suffered at the hands of his classmates by creating scathing portraits of them in his novels
Recent Examples on the Web In the book, the main character falls in love with an android that only pretends to requite his feelings. IEEE Spectrum, 22 Mar. 2023 But his love wasn’t always requited. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2023 Looks like the love Taylor Swift has for Grey’s Anatomy is fully requited! Starr Bowenbank, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2023 An intensity which can be called religious characterizes the devotion shown to their community by literally millions of people who routinely sacrifice — time, money, labor — to remark that devotion; and, using their own language, methods, and skills, to requite the community. William F. Buckley Jr., National Review, 26 Nov. 2020 There’s a lot to requite my love. Andrew McKean, Outdoor Life, 18 Aug. 2020 Employers ought to requite that trust by mandating that their staff who work indoors with other employees are vaccinated for Covid-19. Zachary M. Seward, Quartz, 30 July 2021 Instead, the inciting incidents are all common or garden-variety romantic mishaps — infidelity, unplanned pregnancies, feelings undeclared lest they're not requited. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Jan. 2020 When the universal longing is finally requited, there is a sense of nationwide relief, bringing with it an almost immediate respite from the terrible heat. New York Times, 31 Aug. 2019

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

Word History


re- + obsolete quite to quit, pay, from Middle English quiten — more at quit entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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


Dictionary Entries Near requite

Cite this Entry

“Requite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


re·​quite ri-ˈkwīt How to pronounce requite (audio)
requited; requiting
: to make return for : repay
: to make suitable return to for a service or an injury
requited her for her help
requiter noun

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