[ re-truh-byoo-shuhn ]
/ ˌrɛ trəˈbyu ʃən /


requital according to merits or deserts, especially for evil.
something given or inflicted in such requital.
Theology. the distribution of rewards and punishments in a future life.



Think you know your presidents? Take this quiz and see if you can match the style, wit, and ideology of these memorable lines to the right POTUS.
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“I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

Origin of retribution

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English retribucioun, from Middle French, from Late Latin retribūtiōn- (stem of retribūtiō ) “punishment, reward as result of judgment,” equivalent to Latin retribūt(us) (past participle of retribuere “to restore, give back”; see re-, tribute) + -iōn--ion

synonym study for retribution

1, 2. See revenge.

historical usage of retribution

English retribution ultimately derives from Late Latin retribūtiō (inflectional stem retribūtiōn- ) “recompense, repayment.” Retribūtiō first appears in the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Christian Bible made chiefly by St. Jerome during the late 4th century), in St. Augustine of Hippo’s City of God (a.d. 413–426), and in the writings of other Latin church fathers.
Retribūtiō denotes repayment but connotes payback. Retribūtiō is a derivative of the Latin verb retribuere “to return (money) in due turn, hand down a reward or punishment,” a compound of the Latin prefix re- “back, again, back again” and the verb tribuere “to share, share out, apportion.”
From tribuere is derived the noun tribūtus “a levy, tax, allocation,” which the Romans interpreted as a derivation of tribūtum “a tax, levy, a war tax paid by Roman citizens according to their tribes” ( tribus ). Tribus, one of the three original, traditional ethnic divisions of the Roman state, is a derivative of trēs “three.” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for retribution

British Dictionary definitions for retribution

/ (ˌrɛtrɪˈbjuːʃən) /


the act of punishing or taking vengeance for wrongdoing, sin, or injury
punishment or vengeance

Derived forms of retribution

retributive (rɪˈtrɪbjʊtɪv) or rare retributory, adjectiveretributively, adverb

Word Origin for retribution

C14: via Old French from Church Latin retribūtiō, from Latin retribuere to repay, from re- + tribuere to pay; see tribute
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