re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Definition of retaliate

intransitive verb

: to return like for like especially : to get revenge

transitive verb

: to repay in kind retaliate an injury

Other Words from retaliate

retaliation \ ri-​ˌta-​lē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce retaliate (audio) , ˌrē-​ \ noun
retaliative \ ri-​ˈta-​lē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective
retaliatory \ ri-​ˈtal-​yə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce retaliate (audio) , -​ˈta-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for retaliate


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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 retaliate in a Sentence

After the company announced plans to reduce benefits, the union threatened to retaliate by calling for a strike. retaliated his neighbor's malicious destruction of his flower garden by cutting down the man's prize apple tree
Recent Examples on the Web Now, cornered but far from crippled by sanctions that initially did not include energy exports and still do not in Europe, Putin is using his colossal energy power to retaliate. Suriya Jayanti, Time, 29 Apr. 2022 Leonid Slutsky, a Russian lawmaker who chairs the international affairs committee in the lower house of the country’s parliament, denied the NATO allegations in an interview with state media and said Russia’s foreign ministry would retaliate. Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2021 Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis told lawmakers on Thursday that Facebook would not retaliate against the whistleblower for her disclosures to the Senate. NBC News, 4 Oct. 2021 President Biden pledged that the U.S. would retaliate against the Islamic State affiliate that killed the American service members in the attack on the evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2021 Chaotic scenes unfolded at Kabul’s airport as U.S. citizens and Afghan allies sought passage from the country amid fears the Taliban would retaliate against those who aided American officials over the last two decades. Jennifer Griffin, Fox News, 18 Aug. 2021 The newspaper stopped covering the murder trial once Stone was taken into custody, partially out of fear the judge would retaliate. Bryan Anderson, Star Tribune, 7 July 2021 If Wall Street goes after fossil fuels, their states will retaliate in kind. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 1 Apr. 2022 One recent sign was that the American State Department threatened to relocate NATO matériel and resources out of Poland to retaliate against the government’s restricting speech that blamed the Holocaust on the Polish nation. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retaliate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of retaliate

1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for retaliate

Late Latin retaliatus, past participle of retaliare, from Latin re- + talio legal retaliation

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Time Traveler for retaliate

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The first known use of retaliate was in 1606

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Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Retaliate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for retaliate


re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Kids Definition of retaliate

: to get revenge by returning like for like


intransitive verb
re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Legal Definition of retaliate

: to act in revenge

Other Words from retaliate

retaliation \ -​ˌta-​lē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ noun
retaliative \ -​ˈta-​lē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective
retaliatory \ -​ˈtal-​yə-​ˌtōr-​ē How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on retaliate

Nglish: Translation of retaliate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retaliate for Arabic Speakers


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