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

They and many of the supporting characters are complex and compelling - neither all good nor all bad, capable of both cruelty and kindness, vengeance and remorse. Steve Israel,, "What's the greatest book about politics? Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and others weigh in.," 12 July 2018 But a justice system governed solely by victims’ wishes for vengeance and retribution is not just, or tenable. Yvonne Abraham,, "At Department of Correction, a death of compassion," 28 June 2018 Season 2 ends with her seemingly immersed in endless vengeance. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 10: What Is Real?," 25 June 2018 Dolores, on the other hand, is fixated on world domination and bloody vengeance. Ariana Romero,, "How Women Powered Westworld Season 2," 24 June 2018 Unlike Bronson-style crusaders, vigilante vengeance for them never becomes an end in itself. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: The Moral Complexity of Today's Film and TV Vigilantes," 1 Mar. 2018 Dolores’s mission of liberation is tangled up in her quest for vengeance. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Westworld: Strike the Match," 3 June 2018 The firefighters’ crusade has looked from the beginning like an act of vengeance against City Manager Sheryl Sculley over the city’s 2014 decision to legally challenge the evergreen clauses in its contracts with public safety unions. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "City faces big challenge in campaign against firefighters union," 14 Apr. 2018 But Gillespie was back with a vengeance a month later by running a wind-legal 10.18 100 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Ken Goe,, "Oregon sprinter Cravon Gillespie is a threat this week in the NCAA Championships," 5 June 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

17 Sep 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

What made you want to look up vengeance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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