[ pey-bak ]
/ ˈpeɪˌbæk /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: payback / paybacked / paybacking on Thesaurus.com

the period of time required to recoup a capital investment.
the return on an investment: This fund yields a payback of 15 percent tax-free.
the act or fact of paying back; repayment.
something done in retaliation: Excluding them from her wedding was a vicious payback for years of being snubbed.
verb phrase pay back [pey-bak] /ˈpeɪ ˈbæk/ .
  1. to repay or return; pay off: Graduates from this program are successfully paying back their student loans.
  2. to retaliate against or punish: She paid us back by refusing the invitation.
  3. to requite.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of payback

First recorded in 1955–60; noun use of verb phrase pay back
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use payback in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for payback

pay back

verb (tr, adverb)
to retaliate againstto pay someone back for an insult
to give or do (something equivalent) in return for a favour, insult, etc
to repay (a loan)
noun payback
  1. the return on an investment
  2. Also called: payback period the time taken for a project to cover its outlay
  1. something done in order to gain revenge
  2. (as modifier)payback killings
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with payback

pay back


Repay a debt or a loan, as in I'll pay you back next month.


Also, pay back in someone's own coin. Revenge oneself, repay in kind, as in He thought he could get away with copying my plans, but I'll pay him back in his own coin. This expression refers to repaying a debt in exactly the same currency in which the money had been lent. [c. 1600]

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