re·​trib·​u·​tive | \ ri-ˈtri-byə-tiv How to pronounce retributive (audio) \

Definition of retributive

: of, relating to, or marked by retribution

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from retributive

retributively adverb

Examples of retributive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The current retributive model focuses only on punishment for past crimes. Kenneth E. Hartman, Harper's magazine, "Life after Life," 16 Sep. 2019 Instead, anger against the state is being converted into retributive politics between social groups. Ajay Gudavarthy, Quartz India, "Neoliberalism is killing the very idea of citizenship in India," 2 Sep. 2019 Once in France this weekend, U.S. officials and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire achieved a kind of détente on the tech tax that seems to knock off the table retributive sanctions on other French products, including wine. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "A Tale of Two Industries: Why Winemakers Are Hailing a G7 Victory and Tech Companies Are Crying Foul," 27 Aug. 2019 India carries out retributive strikes on terror camps across the LoC in Pakistan’s Balakot region. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "A timeline of key events that shaped the unique identity of Kashmir within India," 5 Aug. 2019 By turning the proceedings into a proxy trial of Maxwell — calling a witness who testified Maxwell attempted to enlist him in a plot to murder his stepdaughter — Radney valorized Burns as an agent of retributive justice. Stephen Phillips,, "This Southern murder trial inspired Harper Lee's 'lost' book. 'Furious Hours' reexamines it," 14 June 2019 Will President Duncan order a retributive strike on Russia (because, obviously, the SOJ is working for Russia, via a cutout or two)? Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The President Is Missing… a few finer points on how the cyber works in this novel," 17 June 2018 However, the Trump administration's policies so far have veered from the idea of a second chance in favor of a more retributive approach. Jennifer Hansler, CNN, "Trump set one woman free, but he's trying to put a lot more drug offenders away," 7 June 2018 Unlike their last meeting, at Fenway Park a month ago, there were no spikes-up slides, no retributive fastballs in the back and no bench-clearing brawls. New York Times, "Yankees Tie for A.L. East Lead With Win Over Red Sox," 8 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of retributive

1619, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about retributive

Time Traveler for retributive

Time Traveler

The first known use of retributive was in 1619

See more words from the same year

Statistics for retributive

Cite this Entry

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for retributive


re·​trib·​u·​tive | \ ri-ˈtri-byə-tiv How to pronounce retributive (audio) \

Legal Definition of retributive

: of, relating to, or marked by retribution retributive justice

Other Words from retributive

retributively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on retributive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with retributive

Comments on retributive

What made you want to look up retributive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


experienced by way of someone else

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!