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retribution +‎ -ist


retributionist (plural retributionists)

  1. One who holds that there must be retribution (vengeance, punishment) for transgressions.
    • 1893 October, New Ways With Old Offenders, in The Nineteenth Century, volume 34, page 625:
      The retributionist says — I quote from Sir James F. Stephen — ‘The criminal law proceeds upon the principle that it is morally right to hate criminals, and it confirms and justifies that sentiment by inflicting upon criminals punishments which express it.’
    • 2011, Evan J. Mandery, Capital Punishment in America: A Balanced Examination, page 475:
      A lex talionis retributionist would likely maintain that neither the passage of time nor a radical change in the character of the defendant alleviates society's duty to punish the properly convicted. Immanuel Kant captured this notion when he argued that before a civil society could disband, it had to execute the last murderer in its prisons.

Related terms[edit]


  • Charles F. Abel, Frank H. Marsh, Punishment and Restitution: A Restitutionary Approach to Crime and the Criminal (Greenwood Press, 1984), pages 8–9
  • the Oxford English Dictionary