- damages awarded to a plaintiff in excess of compensatory damages in order to punish the defendant for a reckless or willful act.
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. 2018
- 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