One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Chiefly Roman Law. A punishment, a penalty.
Mid 19th century (in an earlier sense). From classical Latin poena penalty, punishment, satisfaction, revenge, unpleasant consequence, in post-classical Latin also suffering, affliction from ancient Greek ποινή blood money, fine, penalty, satisfaction, reward from the same Indo-European base as Avestan kaenā vengeance, reparation and, with a different ablaut grade, Old Church Slavonic cěna, Russian cena, and Lithuanian kaina all in sense ‘price’. Compare earlier poena damni, subpoena.
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