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

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Other Words from retaliate

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

Synonyms for retaliate


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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 In addition to alleged affairs, the JCC has accused Gentry of retaliating against local government employees who didn't provide full support for her election campaign. Alec Snyder, CNN, "Kentucky judge suspended after alleged affair and nepotism," 8 Jan. 2020 When employees tried to report the incidents, they were often fired or retaliated against, the investigation found. New York Times, "Ken Friedman of the Spotted Pig Will Pay $240,000 in Sexual Harassment Case," 7 Jan. 2020 Whistle-blowers in California have a right to sue their state or local government employer for retaliating against them, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. Bob Egelko,, "Whistle-blowers can sue their government employers for retaliation, SF federal appeals court rules," 30 Dec. 2019 According to the consent decree, Live Nation is not allowed to threaten or retaliate against venues that choose not to use Ticketmaster. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Sen. Amy Klobuchar Calls Out 'Broken Ticketing Industry' as DOJ Prepares Live Nation Investigation," 17 Dec. 2019 In a lawsuit filed in Fayette Circuit Court Dec. 2, Buck Ryan, an associate professor in UK's School of Journalism and Media, accused the university and its Title IX coordinator of continually retaliating against him for his actions. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "UK journalism professor sues school, student who filed a complaint against him," 7 Dec. 2019 The president has accused Honduran drug traffickers extradicted to the U.S. of retaliating against his family by alleging that his younger brother is a drug dealer aided by the government. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hondurans call for president to step down after drug verdict," 19 Oct. 2019 In September, former deputy constable Chris De La Cerda filed suit accusing Vela of retaliating against him and Moreno over the hot tub incident. Scott Huddleston,, "Bexar County commissioners move a step closer to ousting controversial constable," 2 Oct. 2019 Under federal law, government whistleblowers are entitled to anonymity, and retaliating against one may violate the law. Los Angeles Times, "Democrats may consider obstruction charges against Trump in impeachment probe," 1 Oct. 2019

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.

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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

Time Traveler

The first known use of retaliate was in 1606

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Statistics for retaliate

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Retaliate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for retaliate


How to pronounce retaliate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of retaliate

: to do something bad to someone who has hurt you or treated you badly : to get revenge against someone


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

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Comments on retaliate

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