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

Definition of retributive

: of, relating to, or marked by retribution

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Other Words from retributive

retributively adverb

Examples of retributive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Subsequent political huggermugger led to the exile of Athenian generals Xanthippus and Aristides, but the two were called back as the Persians mounted a second, retributive invasion almost a decade later. Washington Post, "Best audiobooks to listen to now," 8 Mar. 2021 Schaeffer’s violent past catches up to him every decade or two, in the form of professional assassins bent on collecting payoffs from retributive mobsters. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Thomas Perry’s ‘Eddie’s Boy’," 31 Dec. 2020 Indeed, this determinism is characteristic of the retributive models of justice that these algorithms serve, which focus on punishing and incarcerating offenders, and not on addressing the conditions that led to an arrest in the first place. Lindsay Gray, Scientific American, "What Does a Guilty Brain Look Like?," 18 Nov. 2020 There is no plan for dealing with the unrest of Alawites in Syria if he were deposed — except presumably the hope that the retributive violence of unleashed Sunni fanatics sent them running away as refugees. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Bring Them Home," 11 Sep. 2020 But that’s a system that doesn’t think of punishment as having a punitive or retributive aim, but rather thinks of itself as having the aim of preventing future crimes of that kind. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Kate Manne on the Costs of Male Entitlement," 4 Sep. 2020 Many victims felt cheated out of retributive justice, especially as not everyone received reparations. Debora Patta, CBS News, "What the U.S. can learn from South Africa's reckoning with racism," 8 June 2020 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

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.

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First Known Use of retributive

1619, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for retributive

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The first known use of retributive was in 1619

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Last Updated

17 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Retributive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for retributive

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