Synonyms & Antonyms of punish

to inflict a penalty on for a fault or crime
  • the child was punished for breaking dishes on purpose
  • if caught, the thief will be severely punished

Synonyms for punish

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Antonyms for punish

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Frequently Asked Questions About punish

How is the word punish distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of punish are castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, and discipline. While all these words mean "to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing," punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing.

punished for stealing

When is castigate a more appropriate choice than punish?

Although the words castigate and punish have much in common, castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure.

an editorial castigating the entire city council

When might chasten be a better fit than punish?

The meanings of chasten and punish largely overlap; however, chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued.

chastened by a landslide election defeat

In what contexts can chastise take the place of punish?

In some situations, the words chastise and punish are roughly equivalent. However, chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation.

chastised his son for neglecting his studies

When can correct be used instead of punish?

The words correct and punish are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender.

the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

When would discipline be a good substitute for punish?

The words discipline and punish can be used in similar contexts, but discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control.

parents must discipline their children

Learn More About punish

Time Traveler for punish

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Punish.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on punish

Nglish: Translation of punish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of punish for Arabic Speakers


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