ven·​geance | \ˈven-jən(t)s \

Definition of vengeance 

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

with a vengeance

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

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

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Examples of vengeance in a Sentence

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 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 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 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 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 The fire was set as an act of vengeance. Angry protesters wanted to inflict vengeance on the killer.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Earlier this year, Elainy Portela watched with alarm as measles reappeared with a vengeance. Luciana Magalhaes And Juan Forero, WSJ, "Venezuela’s Health Crisis Is Crossing the Border," 31 Oct. 2018 Our romantic perspective may be warped by way of Venus’s backward spin, so past lovers will be resurfacing, some with a vengeance. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's October 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Sep. 2018 This kind of splashy, grim vengeance is an exciting concept after the #MeToo movement dominated headlines since the fall of 2017., "Dietland Review: #MeToo Revenge Fantasy Doesn’t Have Nearly Enough Bite," 14 May 2018 His vengeance carries always the suggestion that it’s divinely inspired. Steve Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle, "Why Americans are fascinated by gunfighting preachers," 7 July 2018 And Bad Teddy brought his vengeance down upon Coughlin and his black-ops security squad like a Dilophosaurus in the passenger seat of Dennis Nedry’s Jeep. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Westworld: Strike the Match," 3 June 2018 But what Democrat would be brave enough to take on a governor whose brand is as familiar to New Yorkers as Duane Reade, a man notorious for his political chess-playing and ruthless vengeance? Jessica Pressler, The Cut, "Cynthia Nixon Has Already Won," 15 Apr. 2018 But what Democrat would be brave enough to take on a governor whose brand is as familiar to New Yorkers as Duane Reade, a man notorious for his political chess-playing and ruthless vengeance? Jessica Pressler, Daily Intelligencer, "Cynthia Nixon Has Already Won," 15 Apr. 2018 Incensed by these hangings, the Mexican people rioted and tried to get at their army’s collection of American prisoners, but they were thwarted by the Mexican authorities before exacting their vengeance. Ray Cavanaugh, Time, "There's a Serious Story Behind Mexico's St. Patrick's Day Celebrations," 16 Mar. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Dictionary Entries near vengeance

Venezuela, Gulf of







Statistics for vengeance

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for vengeance

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

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More Definitions for vengeance



English Language Learners Definition of vengeance

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


ven·​geance | \ˈven-jəns \

Kids Definition of vengeance

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

with a vengeance

1 : with great force or effect

2 : to an extreme or excessive degree

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Comments on vengeance

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