plural noun Law.
damages awarded to a plaintiff in excess of compensatory damages in order to punish the defendant for a reckless or willful act.
Words nearby punitive damages
Compare compensatory damages.
Origin of punitive damages
First recorded in 1970–75
Also called exemplary damages.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for exemplary damages
law damages awarded to a plaintiff above the value of actual loss sustained so that they serve also as a punishment to the defendant and a deterrent to others
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