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[puhn-i-shing] /ˈpʌn ɪ ʃɪŋ/
causing or characterized by harsh or injurious treatment; severe; brutal:
The storm was accompanied by punishing winds.
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English punyesand; see punish, -ing2
Related forms
nonpunishing, adjective
self-punishing, adjective
unpunishing, adjective
unpunishingly, adverb


[puhn-ish] /ˈpʌn ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to subject to pain, loss, confinement, death, etc., as a penalty for some offense, transgression, or fault:
to punish a criminal.
to inflict a penalty for (an offense, fault, etc.):
to punish theft.
to handle severely or roughly, as in a fight.
to put to painful exertion, as a horse in racing.
Informal. to make a heavy inroad on; deplete:
to punish a quart of whiskey.
verb (used without object)
to inflict punishment.
1300-50; Middle English punischen < Middle French puniss-, long stem of punir < Latin pūnīre; akin to poena penalty, pain
Related forms
punisher, noun
overpunish, verb
prepunish, verb (used with object)
quasi-punished, adjective
repunish, verb
self-punished, adjective
self-punisher, noun
unpunished, adjective
well-punished, adjective
1. chastise, castigate. 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. 1, 2. penalize.
1, 2. reward. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for punishing
  • Evil overlords have a tough time when it comes to punishing geeks.
  • But their punishing high-speed hits come with an added risk of sustaining concussions.
  • Even if he couldn't have, punishing him may deter it in the future.
  • punishing non-believers has been there from the beginning since it threatens believer's fantasies.
  • Heaven in punishing the culpable does not permit itself to be deceived by the breadth of a hair.
  • If it be a fantastic desire, it is better to leave to others the office of punishing him.
  • The whole proceeding, however, in thus trying and punishing a chief was entirely without precedent.
  • But recovering from the physical and mental trauma of its punishing blows can present formidable challenges.
  • The circular migration route is arduous, with varied terrain and a punishing climate.
  • In my mind, there is a huge difference between correcting and punishing a dog.
British Dictionary definitions for punishing


to force (someone) to undergo a penalty or sanction, such as imprisonment, fines, death, etc, for some crime or misdemeanour
(transitive) to inflict punishment for (some crime, etc)
(transitive) to use or treat harshly or roughly, esp as by overexertion: to punish a horse
(transitive) (informal) to consume (some commodity) in large quantities: to punish the bottle
Derived Forms
punisher, noun
punishing, adjective
punishingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14 punisse, from Old French punir, from Latin pūnīre to punish, from poena penalty
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
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Word Origin and History for punishing

"hard-hitting," 1811, present participle adjective from punish (v.). Related: Punishingly.



c.1300, from Old French puniss-, extended present participle stem of punir "to punish," from Latin punire "punish, correct, chastise; take vengeance for; inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense," earlier poenire, from poena "penalty, punishment" (see penal). Colloquial meaning "to inflict heavy damage or loss" is first recorded 1801, originally in boxing. Related: Punished; punishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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