re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Definition of retaliate

intransitive verb

: to return like for like especially : to get revenge

transitive verb

: to repay in kind retaliate an injury

Other Words from retaliate

retaliation \ ri-​ˌta-​lē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce retaliate (audio) , ˌrē-​ \ noun
retaliative \ ri-​ˈta-​lē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective
retaliatory \ ri-​ˈtal-​yə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce retaliate (audio) , -​ˈta-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for retaliate


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reciprocate, retaliate, requite, return mean to give back usually in kind or in quantity. reciprocate implies a mutual or equivalent exchange or a paying back of what one has received. reciprocated their hospitality by inviting them for a visit retaliate usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully. the enemy retaliated by executing their prisoners requite implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently. requited her love with cold indifference return implies a paying or giving back. returned their call return good for evil

Examples of retaliate in a Sentence

After the company announced plans to reduce benefits, the union threatened to retaliate by calling for a strike. retaliated his neighbor's malicious destruction of his flower garden by cutting down the man's prize apple tree
Recent Examples on the Web But this week, Workers United filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, alleging that Starbucks closed the store to retaliate against the union and send a message to other stores seeking to unionize. Dee-ann Durbin,, 8 June 2022 Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to retaliate against the companies leaving Russia, including threatening to nationalize their assets. Robert Hart, Forbes, 16 May 2022 Our system depends on DeSantis getting slapped down for this attempt to retaliate for political speech. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, 11 May 2022 Russia’s leadership would then warn that any attempt to retaliate would unleash the rest of the country’s nuclear weapons, killing millions more and destroying the U.S. as a military, political, and economic entity. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 29 Mar. 2022 Article 5 lays plain that an attack on a member merits a response, but will the alliance retaliate if Russia resorts to chemical weapons in Ukraine? Byshannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 22 Mar. 2022 Russia, which has denied killing civilians in Ukraine and claimed the images out of Bucha are fake, criticized the expulsions and vowed to retaliate. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2022 Now, cornered but far from crippled by sanctions that initially did not include energy exports and still do not in Europe, Putin is using his colossal energy power to retaliate. Suriya Jayanti, Time, 29 Apr. 2022 Leonid Slutsky, a Russian lawmaker who chairs the international affairs committee in the lower house of the country’s parliament, denied the NATO allegations in an interview with state media and said Russia’s foreign ministry would retaliate. Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'retaliate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of retaliate

1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for retaliate

Late Latin retaliatus, past participle of retaliare, from Latin re- + talio legal retaliation

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Time Traveler for retaliate

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The first known use of retaliate was in 1606

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Statistics for retaliate

Last Updated

12 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Retaliate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for retaliate


re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Kids Definition of retaliate

: to get revenge by returning like for like


intransitive verb
re·​tal·​i·​ate | \ ri-ˈta-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \
retaliated; retaliating

Legal Definition of retaliate

: to act in revenge

Other Words from retaliate

retaliation \ -​ˌta-​lē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ noun
retaliative \ -​ˈta-​lē-​ˌā-​tiv How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective
retaliatory \ -​ˈtal-​yə-​ˌtōr-​ē How to pronounce retaliate (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on retaliate

Nglish: Translation of retaliate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retaliate for Arabic Speakers


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