[ puhn-ish ]
See synonyms for: punishpunishedpunishespunishing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to subject to pain, loss, confinement, death, etc., as a penalty for some offense, transgression, or fault: The goal of the court is to punish the criminal for the crime he has committed.

  2. to inflict a penalty for (an offense, fault, etc.): Unconditional imprisonment is imposed to punish past transgressions.

  1. to mistreat, abuse, or hurt:Additional tariffs will punish working families with higher prices on household basics.

  2. to handle severely or roughly, as in a fight.

  3. to put to painful exertion, as a horse in racing.

  4. Informal. to make a heavy inroad on; deplete: to punish a quart of whiskey.

verb (used without object)
  1. to inflict punishment.

Origin of punish

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English punischen, from Middle French puniss-, long stem of punir, from Latin pūnīre; akin to poena penalty, pain

synonym study For punish

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.

Other words for punish

Opposites for punish

Other words from punish

  • pun·ish·er, noun
  • o·ver·pun·ish, verb
  • pre·pun·ish, verb (used with object)
  • qua·si-pun·ished, adjective
  • re·pun·ish, verb
  • self-pun·ished, adjective
  • un·pun·ished, adjective
  • well-pun·ished, adjective

Words Nearby punish

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use punish in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for punish


/ (ˈpʌnɪʃ) /

  1. to force (someone) to undergo a penalty or sanction, such as imprisonment, fines, death, etc, for some crime or misdemeanour

  2. (tr) to inflict punishment for (some crime, etc)

  1. (tr) to use or treat harshly or roughly, esp as by overexertion: to punish a horse

  2. (tr) informal to consume (some commodity) in large quantities: to punish the bottle

Origin of punish

C14 punisse, from Old French punir, from Latin pūnīre to punish, from poena penalty

Derived forms of punish

  • punisher, noun
  • punishing, adjective
  • punishingly, adverb

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