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

Definition of retributive

: of, relating to, or marked by retribution

Other Words from retributive

retributively adverb

Examples of retributive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The second emphasizes how the United States and its European allies, through sanctions and other retributive measures, are trying to destroy Russia and must be counteracted with patriotic defiance and self-reliance. Washington Post, 11 Mar. 2022 Amplifying the sense of urgency, lawmakers and veterans’ groups working on evacuation efforts said, is an uptick in retributive attacks by the Taliban., 12 Oct. 2021 Opinions vary widely as to whether the restorative approach was more effective than the retributive justice method used during the Nuremberg trials to investigate Nazi atrocities during World War II. Clarence Page,, 28 Dec. 2021 The airlift was a major undertaking and most Americans wanted to close the book on the nearly 20-year-old war, which had long since crept beyond the original retributive mission in the aftermath of 9/11. W. James Antle Iii, The Week, 31 Aug. 2021 In return for an honest accounting of past crimes, the committee offered amnesty, establishing what Archbishop Tutu called the principle of restorative — rather than retributive — justice. New York Times, 26 Dec. 2021 Religion proved to be an especially powerful social glue, providing common purpose, mutual protection, and a modicum of alms distribution, often enforced by the idea of retributive deities and their earthly emissaries. The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 John Walsh’s campaign began just as the U.S. criminal legal system pivoted away from rehabilitation and toward a purely retributive model of justice in the 1970s. Paul M. Renfro, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 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. Katherine A. Powers Washington Post, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of retributive

1619, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of retributive was in 1619

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retributive justice

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Last Updated

4 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Retributive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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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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