[ ri-prahy-zuhl ]
/ rɪˈpraɪ zəl /


(in warfare) retaliation against an enemy, for injuries received, by the infliction of equal or greater injuries.
an act or instance of retaliation.
the action or practice of using force, short of war, against another nation, to secure redress of a grievance.
the forcible seizure of property or subjects in retaliation.

Origin of reprisal

1400–50; late Middle English reprisail < Old French reprisaille. See reprise, -al2

Related forms

non·re·pris·al, noun

Can be confused

reprisal reprise

Synonym study

1. See revenge. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for reprisal

British Dictionary definitions for reprisal


/ (rɪˈpraɪzəl) /


(often plural) retaliatory action against an enemy in wartime, such as the execution of prisoners of war, destruction of property, etc
the act or an instance of retaliation in any form
(formerly) the forcible seizure of the property or subjects of one nation by another

Word Origin for reprisal

C15: from Old French reprisaille, from Old Italian ripresaglia, from riprendere to recapture, from Latin reprehendere to hold fast; see reprehend
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

Culture definitions for reprisal


An act by which a nation seeks, short of war, to redress a wrong committed against it by another nation. Boycotts and blockades are common forms of reprisal.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.