Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[pen-l-tee] /ˈpɛn l ti/
noun, plural penalties.
a punishment imposed or incurred for a violation of law or rule.
a loss, forfeiture, suffering, or the like, to which one subjects oneself by nonfulfillment of some obligation.
something that is forfeited, as a sum of money.
a disadvantage imposed upon one of the competitors or upon one side for infraction of the rules of a game, sport, etc.
consequence or disadvantage attached to any action, condition, etc.
Origin of penalty
1505-15;Medieval Latin poenālitās. See penal, -ty2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for penalty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is a penalty for keeping open, houses of entertainment.

    Sunday under Three Heads Charles Dickens
  • Generally death was the least penalty that capture entailed.

  • Such was the penalty for landing two buckets of Liverpool salt at Liverpool!

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Saunders became vehement, and paid the penalty of a paroxysm of coughing.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • I suppose it isn't half so much a crime--as it is a--penalty--for the crimes that bring it on.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
British Dictionary definitions for penalty


noun (pl) -ties
a legal or official punishment, such as a term of imprisonment
some other form of punishment, such as a fine or forfeit for not fulfilling a contract
loss, suffering, or other unfortunate result of one's own action, error, etc
(sport, games) a handicap awarded against a player or team for illegal play, such as a free shot at goal by the opposing team, loss of points, etc
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin poenālitās penalty; see penal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for penalty

mid-15c., from Middle French penalité and directly from Medieval Latin poenalitatem (nominative poenalitas), from Latin poenalis (see penal). The sporting sense is first recorded 1885. Ice hockey penalty box attested by 1931.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for penalty

Word Value for penalty

Scrabble Words With Friends