[puhn-ish-muh nt]


the act of punishing.
the fact of being punished, as for an offense or fault.
a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.
severe handling or treatment.

Origin of punishment

1250–1300; Middle English punysshement < Anglo-French punisement, Old French punissement. See punish, -ment
Related formsnon·pun·ish·ment, nouno·ver·pun·ish·ment, nounpre·pun·ish·ment, nounpro·pun·ish·ment, adjectivere·pun·ish·ment, nounself-pun·ish·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for self-punishment

Historical Examples of self-punishment

  • For self-punishment is just as much a submission to the flesh as luxury and self-indulgence.

  • He was also liable to attacks of caprice and self-punishment.

    The Growth of a Soul

    August Strindberg

  • That action must be her self-punishment for the other time she had done it.

  • No more weary vigils in a room dedicated to remorse and self-punishment.

    Dark Hollow

    Anna Katherine Green

  • How could he appease the wrath of Him who died on the cross, save by years of bitter supplication and self-punishment?


    Charles Kingsley

British Dictionary definitions for self-punishment



the act or an instance of punishing oneself



a penalty or sanction given for any crime or offence
the act of punishing or state of being punished
informal rough treatment
psychol any aversive stimulus administered to an organism as part of training
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

Word Origin and History for self-punishment



late 14c., from Anglo-French punisement (late 13c.), Old French punissement, from punir (see punish). Meaning "rough handling" is from 1811.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with self-punishment


see glutton for punishment.

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