retaliate

verb

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

intransitive verb

: to return like for like
especially : to get revenge

transitive verb

: to repay in kind
retaliate an injury
retaliation noun
retaliative adjective
retaliatory
ri-ˈtal-yə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce retaliate (audio)
-ˈta-lē-ə-
adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for retaliate

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 Busch, 39, then reportedly appeared to retaliate and hit his opponent's rear bumper, which sent Stenhouse, 36, into the wall as well. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 20 May 2024 Mercedes denies interfering with the union campaign or retaliating against employees. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for retaliate 

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of retaliate was in 1606

Dictionary Entries Near retaliate

Cite this Entry

“Retaliate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retaliate. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

retaliate

verb
re·​tal·​i·​ate ri-ˈtal-ē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio)
retaliated; retaliating
: to return (as an injury) in kind : get revenge
retaliation noun
retaliatory adjective

Legal Definition

retaliate

intransitive verb
re·​tal·​i·​ate ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio)
retaliated; retaliating
: to act in revenge
retaliation noun
retaliative adjective
retaliatory adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on retaliate

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