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[puhn-ish] /ˈpʌn ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to subject to pain, loss, confinement, death, etc., as a penalty for some offense, transgression, or fault:
to punish a criminal.
to inflict a penalty for (an offense, fault, etc.):
to punish theft.
to handle severely or roughly, as in a fight.
to put to painful exertion, as a horse in racing.
Informal. to make a heavy inroad on; deplete:
to punish a quart of whiskey.
verb (used without object)
to inflict punishment.
Origin of punish
1300-50; Middle English punischen < Middle French puniss-, long stem of punir < Latin pūnīre; akin to poena penalty, pain
Related forms
punisher, noun
overpunish, verb
prepunish, verb (used with object)
quasi-punished, adjective
repunish, verb
self-punished, adjective
self-punisher, noun
unpunished, adjective
well-punished, adjective
1. chastise, castigate. 1, 2. penalize.
1, 2. reward.
Synonym Study
1.Punish, correct, discipline refer to making evident public or private disapproval of violations of law, wrongdoing, or refusal to obey rules or regulations by imposing penalties. To punish is chiefly to inflict penalty or pain as a retribution for misdeeds, with little or no expectation of correction or improvement: to punish a thief. To correct is to reprove or inflict punishment for faults, specifically with the idea of bringing about improvement: to correct a rebellious child. To discipline is to give a kind of punishment that will educate or will establish useful habits: to discipline a careless driver. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unpunished
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It seems a tame ending that villainy should get off unpunished.

    The Lady of Lynn Walter Besant
  • But from now on, no error would remain undiscovered or unpunished.

    Final Weapon Everett B. Cole
  • Pete would still be unpunished and if the Whitneys should meet him, Jeff, again, they would not bother to take him prisoner.

    Trading Jeff and his Dog James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • What shall he profit, if his injustice be undetected and unpunished?

    The Republic Plato
  • But "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished."

    Elsie's Womanhood Martha Finley
  • There remains the other question: Is a guilty man better off when he is punished or when he is unpunished?

    Gorgias Plato
  • I tremble for the cause of humanity, in the unpunished outrages of the most wicked of mankind.

  • But for the sake of the priests he dare not leave me unpunished.

  • At Milan Bonaparte advises the Directory that he is dealing with unpunished "fripponeries" in the commissariat department.

    Napoleon's Letters to Josephine Henry Foljambe Hall
British Dictionary definitions for unpunished


not receiving or having received a penalty or sanction as punishment for any crime or offence


to force (someone) to undergo a penalty or sanction, such as imprisonment, fines, death, etc, for some crime or misdemeanour
(transitive) to inflict punishment for (some crime, etc)
(transitive) to use or treat harshly or roughly, esp as by overexertion: to punish a horse
(transitive) (informal) to consume (some commodity) in large quantities: to punish the bottle
Derived Forms
punisher, noun
punishing, adjective
punishingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14 punisse, from Old French punir, from Latin pūnīre to punish, from poena penalty
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
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Word Origin and History for unpunished



c.1300, from Old French puniss-, extended present participle stem of punir "to punish," from Latin punire "punish, correct, chastise; take vengeance for; inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense," earlier poenire, from poena "penalty, punishment" (see penal). Colloquial meaning "to inflict heavy damage or loss" is first recorded 1801, originally in boxing. Related: Punished; punishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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