noun ven·geance \ˈven-jən(t)s\

Definition of vengeance

  1. :  punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense :  retribution

with a vengeance

  1. 1 :  with great force or vehemence undertook reform with a vengeance

  2. 2 :  to an extreme or excessive degree the tourists are back—with a vengeance

Examples of vengeance in a sentence

  1. He thought briefly of the long-dead woman bound to this stone in 1654 and burnt alive as a witch. And for what? An over-sharp tongue, delusions, mental eccentricity, to satisfy a private vengeance, the need for a scapegoat in times of sickness or the failure of a harvest, or perhaps as a sacrifice to propitiate a malignant unnamed god? —P. D. James, The Private Patient, 2008

  2. Unlike the type of cannibalism much of the world had come to know—among desperate explorers, marooned sailors, and victims of famine—the Cinta Larga's consumption of human flesh was born not out of necessity but out of vengeance and an adherence to tribal traditions and ceremony. —Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005

  3. As it turns out, police crackdowns in the 1990's did not so much destroy Los Angeles street gangs as temporarily displace them to Central America. Soon they returned with a vengeance; gang-related homicide rose 50 percent between 1999 and 2002. —Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review, 9 Jan. 2005

  4. He is trying to do in his corner of Texas what death-penalty opponents say is impossible: enforce capital punishment flawlessly, ensuring that the innocent never spend a day on death row and the guilty are sent there only after trials free of bias and vengeance. —John Cloud, Time, 14 July 2003

  5. A holy war may be launched to root out terrorism, but its form must be a punitive crusade, an angry god's vengeance exacted upon sinners, since no proper war can exist when there is no recognition of the other's list of grievances, no awareness of the relentless dynamic binding the powerful and powerless. —John Edgar Wideman, Harper's, March 2002

  6. The fire was set as an act of vengeance.

  7. Angry protesters wanted to inflict vengeance on the killer.

Origin and Etymology of vengeance

Middle English vengeaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French, from venger “to exact satisfaction for” (going back to Latin vindicāre “to lay claim to, exact retribution for”) + -aunce -ance — more at vindicate

First Known Use: 14th century

VENGEANCE Defined for English Language Learners


noun ven·geance \ˈven-jən(t)s\

Definition of vengeance for English Language Learners

  • : the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else

VENGEANCE Defined for Kids


noun ven·geance \ˈven-jəns\

Definition of vengeance for Students

  1. :  harm done to someone usually as punishment in return for an injury or offense

with a vengeance

  1. 1 :  with great force or effect

  2. 2 :  to an extreme or excessive degree

Seen and Heard

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quaintly unconventional or refined

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