[ puhn-i-sher ]


  1. a person who inflicts a penalty, such as pain, confinement, etc.:

    If your response is delayed, the dog will link the punishment to the punisher and not to the transgression.

  2. Sports. a person who plays or hits aggressively:

    The player is destined to be an all-American and an all-around punisher in the league.

  3. a thing that inflicts pain, discomfort, etc.:

    I ran out of time on the test because of one punisher—a question I should have left for last.

  4. something that deters or dissuades:

    Any stimulus which makes the behavior it follows more frequent is a reinforcer, even if it is intended as a punisher.

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Other Words From

  • self-pun·ish·er noun

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Word History and Origins

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Example Sentences

In his biography of Washington, the president’s step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, called Posey an “artiste” who ran his kitchen with “iron discipline,” quick to punish those who disobeyed.

The tax was touted as a way to punish major drugmakers for their role in the opioid epidemic and generate funding for treatment programs.

From Fortune

The fundamental feedback loop of politics — parties compete for public support, and if they fail the public, they are electorally punished, and so they change — is broken.

From Vox

Proctorio’s Olsen defends the company as an early-warning system for academic-dishonesty violations, saying it’s up to the instructor to review the flags and punish or respond in an appropriate way.

The pandemic is in a ferocious groove now, punishing the country with record numbers of cases each day and raising the death total to more than 241,000 Americans.

Justice always accompanies Him, and is the punisher of those who fall short of the divine law.

No I came here to secure thy punishment, but I cannot condescend to become thy punisher.

Be conscience then his punisher, till heaven in mercy gives him penitence, or dooms him in its justice.

You swear like a Turk, sir; but, take heed; for our prophet is a severe punisher of promise breakers.

He was not only the rewarder of good but the punisher of evil.