[ boun-tee ]
/ ˈbaʊn ti /
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noun, plural boun·ties.
a premium or reward, especially one offered by a government: There was a bounty on his head. Some states offer a bounty for dead coyotes.
a generous gift.
generosity in giving.
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Origin of bounty

1200–50; Middle English b(o)unte<Anglo-French, Old French bonte,Old French bontet<Latin bonitāt- (stem of bonitās) goodness. See boon2, -ity

synonym study for bounty

1. See bonus.


boun·ty·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does bounty mean?

A bounty is a reward, especially one offered in an official way for the capture of someone or something.

This sense of the word most often refers to the reward sought by bounty hunters for tracking down and capturing fugitive criminals (or, in older times, killing them). A more recent use of the word refers to the reward offered for identifying a software vulnerability in a company’s or organization’s system.

In a broader sense, the word bounty means a generous gift or generosity in general. This sense of the word is most often used in a poetic way, such as referring to crops as the bounty of the land. The H.M.S. Bounty, the ship aboard which the notorious mutiny occurred, was probably named after this sense of the word.

Example: The bounty offered for the capture of Billy the Kid was $500—dead or alive.

Where does bounty come from?

The first records of the word bounty come from the 1200s. It comes from the Latin bonitās, meaning “goodness,” from the Latin bonus, meaning “good.” (The English word bonus comes from the same Latin word.) Bounty was first used in English to mean “goodness.” Eventually, it came to mean “generosity,” and then “gift,” and then “reward.”

When it means “gift,” bounty often refers to natural gifts from the earth. Nature’s bounty refers to things like fruits and vegetables. The bounty of the sea is fish.

Bounty was once used to refer to a payment made by the government to sailors or soldiers after a war. But today it’s most commonly used to refer to the reward sought by bounty hunters. If someone says there’s a bounty on your head, it means there’s a reward for your capture. In popular culture, bounty hunters are most often seen in tales of the American Wild West. They’re often depicted as gunslingers out to get the bounties for criminals who are “wanted dead or alive.” Several bounty hunters also appear in the Star Wars series, including Boba Fett and the character known as the Mandalorian.

In real life, bounties are sometimes offered for the killing or capture of animals, such as invasive snakes.

They’re also sometimes paid to white hat hackers who discover bugs or security gaps in software and websites and let the owners know about them. Google, for example, has a long-running bounty program that pays people for discovering such flaws in its systems.

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What are some other forms related to bounty?

  • bountiful (adjective)
  • bountyless (adjective)

What are some synonyms for bounty?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bounty

What are some words that often get used in discussing bounty?

How is bounty used in real life?

Bounty most often refers to the reward sought by bounty hunters.



Try using bounty!

Is bounty used correctly in the following sentence?

The sultan welcomed the travelers with a bounty of delicious fruits.

How to use bounty in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bounty (1 of 2)

/ (ˈbaʊntɪ) /

noun plural -ties
generosity in giving to others; liberality
a generous gift; something freely provided
a payment made by a government, as, formerly, to a sailor on enlisting or to a soldier after a campaign
any reward or premiuma bounty of 20p for every rat killed

Word Origin for bounty

C13 (in the sense: goodness): from Old French bontet, from Latin bonitās goodness, from bonus good

British Dictionary definitions for bounty (2 of 2)

/ (ˈbaʊntɪ) /

a British naval ship commanded by Captain William Bligh, which was on a scientific voyage in 1789 between Tahiti and the West Indies when her crew mutinied
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