ven·​geance | \ ˈven-jən(t)s How to pronounce vengeance (audio) \

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 Former vengeance demon Anya returns to her ways after being left at the altar by one of Buffy’s best friends, Xander Harris. Gabrielle Sanchez, Vulture, "A Complete Timeline of Every Joss Whedon Controversy," 24 Mar. 2021 But now that Morales is back, some fear political vengeance will follow. Rafael Romo, CNN, "Questions mount over former president's arrest in Bolivia," 15 Mar. 2021 Come, come, our Empress, with her sacred wit, to villainy and vengeance consecrate. Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1419: Send us the bill — our ‘joint legislation’ contest," 14 Jan. 2021 In the initial days after The Whack, Joe Louis Arena was the epicenter for what at first appeared to be an attack by a skating fanatic but what really turned out to be a surreal, almost comic, story of jealousy, vengeance and deceit. Gene Myers, Detroit Free Press, "How Benny Napoleon helped crack 'The Whack Heard 'Round the World' of Nancy Kerrigan," 18 Dec. 2020 Crispus eventually dies and becomes the host for Spectre, the embodiment of God’s vengeance. James Grebey, Vulture, "Every Single Easter Egg in Zack Snyder’s Justice League," 18 Mar. 2021 One is never worried that McCall will take her vengeance too far. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Queen Latifah Obliterates Trumps n’ Musks in “The Equalizer”," 8 Mar. 2021 But her personal problems were intensified by a force determined to crush her, specifically the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which pursued her with an obsessive vengeance that surely hastened her death, in 1959 at age 44. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," 26 Feb. 2021 Lord, in Thy day o’ vengeance try him! Lord, visit them wha did employ him! Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Robert Burns’s Antidote for Our Self-Righteous Times," 25 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for vengeance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for vengeance

Last Updated

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vengeance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce vengeance (audio) \

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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