9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pyoo-ni-tiv] /ˈpyu nɪ tɪv/
serving for, concerned with, or inflicting punishment:
punitive laws; punitive action.
Also, punitory
[pyoo-ni-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈpyu nɪˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA)
Origin of punitive
1615-25; < Medieval Latin pūnītīvus of punishment, equivalent to Latin pūnīt(us) (past participle of pūnīre to punish) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
punitively, adverb
punitiveness, noun
nonpunitive, adjective
nonpunitory, adjective
self-punitive, adjective
semipunitive, adjective
semipunitory, adjective
unpunitive, adjective
Can be confused
penal, penological, punitive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for punitive
  • Is it time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden.
  • There is nothing punitive about them, they are a joke.
  • In addition to compensatory damages the courts began to award punitive damages.
  • For example, there is strong support for punitive legislation against oil companies because of high prices.
  • Moreover, conditions set upon release are intended to be preventative and not punitive in nature.
  • Yet the encouragement of faculty to expand their skills can't be punitive or negative.
  • No ruined credit, no debt collectors buying bad loans for pennies on the dollar, no punitive fines and penalties.
  • The new laws are even more demanding and punitive to wrongdoing than they were a few years ago.
  • punitive damages would also be available, but only if prosecutors could be shown to have lied in seeking to justify a detention.
  • Most controversially, he agreed to a punitive kind of welfare reform.
British Dictionary definitions for punitive


relating to, involving, or with the intention of inflicting punishment: a punitive expedition
Derived Forms
punitively, adverb
punitiveness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin pūnītīvus concerning punishment, from Latinpūnīre to punish
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 punitive

1620s, "inflicting or involving punishment," from French punitif (16c.) or directly from Medieval Latin punitivus, from Latin punitus, past participle of punire "to punish, correct, chastise" (see punish).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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