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[puhn-ish-muh nt]
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  1. the act of punishing.
  2. the fact of being punished, as for an offense or fault.
  3. a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.
  4. severe handling or treatment.

Origin of punishment

1250–1300; Middle English punysshement < Anglo-French punisement, Old French punissement. See punish, -ment
Related formsnon·pun·ish·ment, nouno·ver·pun·ish·ment, nounpre·pun·ish·ment, nounpro·pun·ish·ment, adjectivere·pun·ish·ment, nounself-pun·ish·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for punishment


  1. a penalty or sanction given for any crime or offence
  2. the act of punishing or state of being punished
  3. informal rough treatment
  4. psychol any aversive stimulus administered to an organism as part of training
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

Word Origin and History for punishment


late 14c., from Anglo-French punisement (late 13c.), Old French punissement, from punir (see punish). Meaning "rough handling" is from 1811.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with punishment


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.