Definition of on (or under) pain of in US English:

on (or under) pain of

phrase

  • The penalty for disobedience or shortcoming being.

    ‘all persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment’
    • ‘Detainees can be forced to answer questions on pain of imprisonment and now, if charged, police will be able to interrogate them for a further 24 hours before facing court.’
    • ‘She made me swear on pain of death that I'd go to a salon in Newcastle the morning of the event and get my hair put up by a specialist.’
    • ‘A 15-year deal will have certain conditions which must be fulfilled on pain of penalties being imposed.’
    • ‘In the course of that investigation, the applicant was required to answer questions on pain of penalty.’
    • ‘They could disobey orders only on pain of death.’
    • ‘I don't think you can really call it benevolence when someone is forced to do nice things on pain of death.’
    • ‘We, being the ones who swore, even on pain of death, that we would defend the interests of the System, feel that our acts must be selfless in all aspects.’
    • ‘This effectively prevents the authority from supporting any other cinema site under pain of financial penalty.’
    • ‘No knives that have gone into the peanut butter must ever go into the jam, on pain of death, literally.’
    • ‘But he was exiled permanently from Rome, never to return under pain of death.’