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[re-truh-byoo-shuh n] /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.
1350-1400; Middle English retribucioun < Middle French < 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
1, 2. retaliation, repayment, recompense. See revenge.
1, 2. pardon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for retribution
  • Without a doubt, this action demanded retaliation and retribution.
  • He asked me not to reveal his village because he fears retribution.
  • It's called having a conscience with an innate fear of divine retribution for doing what is wrong.
  • Many frivolous claims come from patients seeking retribution for a doctor sending delinquent unpaid bills to collections.
  • He incited a national politics of paranoia and retribution.
  • Finally, it allows those who were injured in a crime to feel the satisfactions of revenge-the retribution principle.
  • Even freeloaders reconstruct their cheating as some form retribution.
  • It is a tragedy when people have to hide their real life for fear of retribution.
  • Apparently you need fear of retribution to behave in a moral fashion.
  • Some of us seem to believe that one has to earn tenure in order to have the right to speak freely without retribution.
British Dictionary definitions for retribution


the act of punishing or taking vengeance for wrongdoing, sin, or injury
punishment or vengeance
Derived Forms
retributive (rɪˈtrɪbjʊtɪv), (rare) retributory, adjective
retributively, adverb
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for retribution
1382, "repayment," from L. retributionem (nom. retributio) "recompense, repayment," from retributus, pp. of retribuere "hand back, repay," from re- "back" + tribuere "to assign, allot" (see tribute). Sense of "evil given for evil done" is from day of retribution (1526) in Christian theology, the time of divine reward or punishment.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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