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See also: rétribution



PIE word

From Latin retribuere (repay).


  • IPA(key): /ˌɹɛt.ɹɪ.ˈbju.ʃən/
  • (file)
  • (file)


retribution (countable and uncountable, plural retributions)

  1. Punishment inflicted in the spirit of moral outrage or personal vengeance.
    • 1983, Richard A. Posner, The economics of justice, m p.208:
      Whereas retribution focuses on the offender's wrong, retaliation focuses on the impulse of the victim (or of those who sympathize with him) to strike back at the offender.
    • 1999, Barbara Hanawalt, Medieval crime and social control, page 73:
      1. Revenge is for an injury; retribution is for a wrong.
      2. Retribution sets an internal limit to the amount of the punishment according to the seriousness of the wrong; revenge need not.
      3. Revenge is personal; the agent of retribution need have no special or personal tie to the victim of the wrong for which he exacts retribution.
      4. Revenge involves a particular emotional tone, pleasure in the suffering of another, while retribution need involve no emotional tone.



Related terms[edit]