Definition of retribution in English:



mass noun
  • Punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act.

    ‘employees asked not to be named, saying they feared retribution’
    ‘Minos threatened war against Athens in retribution for his son's death’
    ‘divine retribution’
    • ‘According to media reports, the company, in retribution, then halted the payment of the workers' May salaries.’
    • ‘The sermon preaches Christian hope and faith rather than retribution.’
    • ‘Louis entered Dijon not to scenes of rebellion and retribution, but to one of proper submission and loyalty.’
    • ‘Austin's plan was a perfect way for him to get retribution for past pain.’
    • ‘Every fiber of her cried out for revenge, for retribution, for something to let her strike back.’
    • ‘One purpose of a term of imprisonment is to secure just retribution for society, the other is to secure the rehabilitation of the prisoner.’
    • ‘Now Fairon depicted a different sort of pirate: a man, a hurt man, who had a grudge and needed retribution.’
    • ‘Anonymity was the order of the day, and fear of retribution was high.’
    • ‘Minos threatened war against Athens in retribution for his son's death.’
    • ‘In that regard, not only did they open themselves up to ethical retribution, but to potential criminal prosecution under both federal and local law.’
    • ‘People were free to criticize the government, without fear of retribution!’
    • ‘He also had to think about his credibility, which was too valuable to be squandered on gratuitous retribution.’
    • ‘Fundamentalist clergy wandered the back roads and river paths between Staines and Richmond, calling for divine retribution.’
    • ‘The consequences of ignoring these self-regulatory practices is to suffer the officials' ire and retribution.’
    • ‘Laertes, Polonius' son, returns with a mob from Paris and demands retribution against Hamlet.’
    • ‘The lex talionus, or law of retribution, teaches that the punishment should fit the crime.’
    • ‘That law is intended to keep processors from seeking retribution against growers who organize to bargain.’
    • ‘In thinking about ethical justice, we veer between the notions of forgiveness and retribution.’
    • ‘But fear of retribution may prevent the poor from exercising their informal and even legal rights.’
    • ‘She uses the reunion with her father as an opportunity to exact retribution upon everyone who has mistreated her.’
    punishment, penalty, nemesis, fate, doom, one's just deserts, due reward, just reward, wages
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘recompense for merit or a service’): from late Latin retributio(n-), from retribut- ‘assigned again’, from the verb retribuere, from re- ‘back’ + tribuere ‘assign’.