One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in international law) retaliation by a state on another's subjects.
- ‘A 1447 toll on the Prussian towns' vessels was rather in the nature of retortion than the pursuit of a consistent policy.’
- ‘It followed that retortion could not always be regarded as a legitimate action from the standpoint of international law.’
Late 16th century (in the sense ‘bending or turning backwards’): from retort, perhaps on the pattern of contortion.
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