comeuppance

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From come up (appear before a judge) +‎ -ance.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

comeuppance (plural comeuppances)

  1. A negative outcome which is justly deserved.
    • 1883, Albion Winegar Tourgée, ed., The Continent; an illustrated weekly magazine, v 3.
      So when Brown's second wife turned out a reg'lar ternygrunt, I wa'n't in no wise upset, for he needed a comeuppance, an' he got it in her.
    • 1918, Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons, ch 10.
      The Sunday edition of the principal morning paper even expressed some bitterness under the heading, "Gilded Youths of the Fin-de-Siecle"--this was considered the knowing phrase of the time, especially for Sunday supplements--and there is no doubt that from certain references in this bit of writing some people drew the conclusion that Mr. George Amberson Minafer had not yet got his comeuppance, a postponement still irritating.
    • 1958, “Yankee Comeuppance in a Lousy Inning”, in Life, v 45, n 15 (October 13), p 34.
      The Yankees got their comeuppance in Milwaukee when the Braves piled up a record score for the first inning of a World Series game.
    • 2004, Peter Hunt, Sheila G. Bannister Ray, eds., International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, p 862.
      [] in the anonymous A New Gift for Children (1750), perhaps America's first secular storybook, and its tales of children who are good and merit rewards, and tales of children who are otherwise and receive their comeuppances.
    • 2014 October 30, Ben Brantley, “When the head leads the heart: 'The Real Thing,' With Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal, opens on Broadway [print version: When the witty head is far ahead of the heart: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor star in revival of 'Real Thing', International New York Times, 4 November 2014, p. 9]”, The New York Times:
      [I]ts main character, Henry (Mr. [Ewan] McGregor), is a successful, intellectual dramatist who seems quite capable of churning out fizzy, challenging works about brilliant but ambivalent revolutionaries, philosophers, etc. [] But this cleverer-than-thou creature gets his comeuppance in "The Real Thing," showing that a very human heart – just like those possessed by the less sesquipedalian – beats beneath his fancy words.

Synonyms[edit]

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Usage notes[edit]

A comeuppance is invariably a bad experience. Even so, some dictionaries leave open the possibility of a positive outcome, either explicitly in the definition or by using synonyms such as just deserts, which can be positive.