retribution

noun
ret·​ri·​bu·​tion | \ ˌre-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce retribution (audio) \

Definition of retribution

2 : the dispensing or receiving of reward or punishment especially in the hereafter
3 : something given or exacted in recompense especially : punishment

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Did You Know?

With its prefix re-, meaning "back", retribution means literally "payback". And indeed we usually use it when talking about personal revenge, whether it's retribution for an insult in a high-school corridor or retribution for a guerrilla attack on a government building. But retribution isn't always so personal: God takes "divine retribution" on humans several times in the Old Testament, especially in the great Flood that wipes out almost the entire human race. And retribution for criminal acts, usually in the form of a prison sentence, is taken by the state, not the victims.

Examples of retribution in a Sentence

The elastic-faced Ruck is a real find: his Cameron is a guilt-ridden, father-dominated nerd almost paralyzed with fear of parental retribution. — David Ansen, Newsweek, 16 June 1986 The two purposes that sustain the death penalty … in the Court's view are general deterrence and retribution. — Thurgood Marshall, Gregg v. Georgia, 1976 " … As for Cordelia, she went insane with remorse and was shut up in a lunatic asylum. I thought that was a poetical retribution for her crime." — Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908 The killer acted without fear of retribution. the neighborhood is being torn apart by an endless cycle of gang violence and retribution
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Recent Examples on the Web Though social platforms have yet to be blocked in Hong Kong, users have begun scrubbing their accounts and deleting pro-democracy posts out of fear of retribution. Zen Soo, USA TODAY, "TikTok to leave Hong Kong as security law raises questions," 8 July 2020 Though social platforms have yet to be blocked in Hong Kong, users have begun scrubbing their accounts and deleting pro-democracy posts out of fear of retribution. Zen Soo, The Christian Science Monitor, "Is TikTok, Facebook user data safe in Hong Kong? Maybe not.," 7 July 2020 Though social platforms have yet to be blocked in Hong Kong, users have begun scrubbing their accounts and deleting pro-democracy posts out of fear of retribution. Washington Post, "Facebook, others, block govt requests on Hong Kong user data," 6 July 2020 One woman, fearing retribution for testifying on the subject to a Senate committee in 1999, only did so while wearing a hood, hiding behind a screen, and having her voice scrambled. Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic, "The Supermarket Is One of America’s Best Ideas," 17 June 2020 The protesters broke into the airfield at 10 a.m. after warning security guards of their presence, according to Franck, an XR activist on the scene who refused to give his full name for fear of retribution from authorities. Washington Post, "Climate activists disrupt reopening of Paris’ Orly Airport," 26 June 2020 In turn, residents may be afraid to reveal abuse or mistreatment, for fear of retribution from staff. Michael Schulson, Quartz, "Coronavirus is renewing a call to abolish nursing homes," 25 June 2020 Garcia and Castro also spoke with Miriam and her 15-year-old daughter Julieth, who asked that their full names not be published for fear of retribution. Silvia Foster-frau, ExpressNews.com, "Congressional tour reports lack of widespread testing at immigrant facilities near San Antonio," 22 June 2020 But that went too far for most in the group, according to two UCLA players who signed the document but asked The Times for anonymity because of fear of retribution. Los Angeles Times, "UCLA football players demand protection from ‘injustices’ amid pandemic return," 19 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retribution.' 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 retribution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for retribution

Middle English retribucioun, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin retribution-, retributio, from Latin retribuere to pay back, from re- + tribuere to pay — more at tribute

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Time Traveler for retribution

Time Traveler

The first known use of retribution was in the 14th century

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Statistics for retribution

Last Updated

13 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Retribution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retribution. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for retribution

retribution

noun
How to pronounce retribution (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of retribution

formal : punishment for doing something wrong

retribution

noun
ret·​ri·​bu·​tion | \ ˌre-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce retribution (audio) \

Kids Definition of retribution

retribution

noun
ret·​ri·​bu·​tion | \ ˌre-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce retribution (audio) \

Legal Definition of retribution

: punishment imposed (as on a convicted criminal) for purposes of repayment or revenge for the wrong committed

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