Share this entry

Share this page

punish

Line breaks: pun¦ish
Pronunciation: /ˈpʌnɪʃ
 
/

Definition of punish in English:

verb

[with object]
1Inflict a penalty or sanction on (someone) as retribution for an offence, especially a transgression of a legal or moral code: I have done wrong and I’m being punished for it
More example sentences
  • This contravenes the movies' typical treatment of cads, who are usually punished for their moral transgressions or transformed into dullards by the power of love.
  • Noir was the perfect response to the censors - the Code demanded that people be punished for their sins, and in film noir everyone pays.
  • A minute later the visitors were punished for their miss when Lennon took a pass on the turn and rifled the ball into the right-hand corner to give Monksland the lead.
Synonyms
British informal drop on, give someone what for
North American informal tear down
dated chastise
archaic chasten, recompense, visit
1.1Inflict a penalty or sanction on someone for (such an offence): fraudulent acts would be punished by up to two years in prison
More example sentences
  • The official failure to condemn or punish rape gives it an overt political sanction, which allows rape and other forms of torture and ill-treatment to become tools of military strategy.
  • Then when Jed were penalised for a stamping offence, Stenhouse punished the misdemeanour with well-struck kick to put the Greens eight points ahead.
  • He is talking, believe it or not, about an overdue, ponderous but worthy apparatus for punishing war crimes.
1.2 informal Capitalize on (an opponent’s mistake), especially in sport: Australia punished Ireland’s handling blunders and scored three tries
More example sentences
  • One lapse of concentration costs you dearly at this level and any mistakes are generally punished with a goal.
  • Gomersal came back in the second half to punish mistakes and take the game 2-1.
  • His miss handed Cougars a scrum in front of the posts - but they let him off the hook by not punishing his mistake with a score.
Synonyms
1.3Treat (someone) in an unfairly harsh way: a rise in prescription charges would punish the poor
More example sentences
  • By going to this extreme you are unfairly punishing the individual in the pursuit of spiteful gossip.
  • Patti Fritz argues that such a fee unfairly punishes elderly residents who put away savings for their retirement years.
  • Dr Fundanga said all that was needed was a comprehensive framework for enforcement rather than on an ad hoc basis because this would end up punishing some members unfairly.
Synonyms
treat harshly/unfairly, be unfair to, unfairly disadvantage, put at an unfair disadvantage, put in an unfavourable position, handicap, do a disservice to, make someone suffer, hurt, wrong, ill-use, maltreat
1.4Subject to severe and debilitating treatment.
Example sentences
  • It was hard to imagine how that merry prankster and mistress of worthy causes could be subject to such punishing mood swings.
  • His length had improved and he was much more severe in punishing any loose shots played by Darwish.
  • Seems perfectly reasonable to me that the Doctor's control of the energy would be more punishing and exhausting - even damaging - than Rose's.

Origin

Middle English: from Old French puniss-, lengthened stem of punir 'punish', from Latin punire, from poena 'penalty'.

Derivatives

punisher

1
noun
Example sentences
  • Apparently, if you have been clicked at less than 15 kph over the limit and have not had a speed ticket or accident in the previous three years you can write to the speed camera punishers and plead for a caution instead of a fine.
  • Manning used to say that Australian public life broke into two groups: the enlargers, and the punishers and straighteners.
  • Cruel physical punishments degrade the punishers as well as the punished.

Definition of punish in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day jaunt
Pronunciation: dʒɔːnt
noun
a short excursion or journey made for pleasure