causing or characterized by harsh or injurious treatment; severe; brutal: The storm was accompanied by punishing winds.

1425–75; late Middle English punyesand; see punish, -ing2

nonpunishing, adjective
self-punishing, adjective
unpunishing, adjective
unpunishingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin & History

mid-14c., from O.Fr. puniss-, extended prp. stem of punir "to punish," from L. punire "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. Punishing "hard-hitting" is from 1811.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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