Definition of retribution in English:


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


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’.