Definition of punish in English:

punish

Line breaks: pun¦ish
Pronunciation: /ˈpʌnɪʃ
 
/

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
    penalize, discipline, mete out punishment to, bring someone to book, teach someone a lesson, make an example of; tan/whip someone's hide
    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
    exploit, take advantage of, put to advantage, use, make use of, turn to (one's) account, profit by/from, capitalize on, cash in on, trade on
    informal walk all over
  • 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.
    More 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.

Derivatives

punisher

noun
More 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.

Origin

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

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