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


avenge, redress, requite, revenge, venge [archaic]

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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

Bank of America Merrill Lynch warned that China could retaliate against US tariffs by purchasing vast amounts of oil from Iran in defiance of Washington's sanctions on the OPEC nation. Matt Egan, CNN, "How Trump's trade war could help Iran and crash oil prices," 6 Aug. 2019 Halas, who favored the Tribune and often fed its writers breaking news, retaliated by telling the Tribune’s Wilfrid Smith that assistant coach and former star halfback Paddy Driscoll, not Johnsos, would be the Bears’ next coach. Will Larkin,, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 40, Luke Johnsos," 27 July 2019 That's when Harrison retaliated by charging at her assailant while still holding the baby, who fell soon afterward onto the pavement of the parking lot, police said. Tiffini Theisen,, "Mom charged with murder after dropping 3-month-old onto pavement as she fights with another woman: police," 23 July 2019 Demanding an apology, the United Arab Emirates retaliated by cutting off cooperation with the Somali government, suspecting it of siding with Turkey and Qatar. Ronen Bergman, New York Times, "With Guns, Cash and Terrorism, Gulf States Vie for Power in Somalia," 22 July 2019 Iran placed sea mines in the paths of ships, and Iraq retaliated by firing missiles at them. Melissa Etehadstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "What’s behind Iran’s actions in the Strait of Hormuz?," 19 July 2019 May didn’t send a naked picture, and Seth retaliated by using fake Facebook accounts in her name to message her friends at her new school. Stephanie Clifford, WIRED, "He Cyberstalked Teen Girls for Years—Then They Fought Back," 24 June 2019 Fearing for his safety, Soriero took a swing at Gordon but missed, so Gordon retaliated by knocking Soriero to the ground with a punch and Soriero’s head hit the concrete. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Uber driver loses ear in airport road rage fight, cops say," 11 June 2019 When Duncan reported the issue, his supervisor retaliated by assigning Duncan extra work, according to the complaint. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "African American maintenance workers in JCPS face discrimination, lawsuit says," 6 June 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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Statistics for retaliate

Last Updated

9 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for retaliate

The first known use of retaliate was in 1606

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More Definitions for retaliate



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


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 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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a wrong name or inappropriate designation

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