ven·​geance ˈven-jən(t)s How to pronounce vengeance (audio)
: punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense : retribution
with a vengeance
: with great force or vehemence
undertook reform with a vengeance
: to an extreme or excessive degree
the tourists are back—with a vengeance

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Now, coach Kyle Shanahan, tight end George Kittle and several others from that group are back for vengeance. Maddie Hartley, Kansas City Star, 9 Feb. 2024 At the start of February, Netflix teased viewers with a 17-second clip which picks up right where the first season left off: with a red-haired Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun a.k.a Player 456, abandoning his plans to leave South Korea for the U.S. in an apparent decision to seek vengeance. TIME, 6 Feb. 2024 Like Flock, Motz is interested in the lore of female vengeance: Judith beheading Holofernes, Medea killing her sons to spite Jason, Clytemnestra stabbing Agamemnon in the bath. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Here was a chance for vengeance, but when the council asked what punishment the soldier should face, the mother asked for the boy to be released into her own care, and to raise him as her own. Bishop Sand, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2024 Yes, Trump has vowed to use his power over the Justice Department to turn it into an instrument of vengeance against his political adversaries. David Leonhardt, New York Times, 25 Jan. 2024 For Cairo, meanwhile, his betrayal (as a companion, much less as an educator) offers the opportunity in her for a sociopath’s origin story, a grand transformation in which her desperate yearning for melodrama and a thirst for vengeance falls into perfect lockstep. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 24 Jan. 2024 When a father seeking vengeance, an American operative experiencing a string of bad luck, and several independent assassins hailing from around the world all end up on the same bullet train bound for Kyoto, the results are violent — and the survivors minimal. Dennis Perkins,, 17 Jan. 2024 Then this past October, his disease returned with a vengeance. Théoden Janes, Charlotte Observer, 2 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vengeance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near vengeance

Cite this Entry

“Vengeance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ven·​geance ˈven-jən(t)s How to pronounce vengeance (audio)
: punishment given in return for an injury or offense : retribution

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