Meaning of PUNISHMENT in English

pun ‧ ish ‧ ment W3 /ˈpʌnɪʃmənt/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ punishable , ↑ punishing , ↑ unpunished , ↑ punitive ; verb : ↑ punish ; noun : ↑ punishment ]

1 . [uncountable and countable] something that is done in order to punish someone, or the act of punishing them ⇨ punitive

punishment for

The punishment for treason is death.

as a punishment

I was sent to bed as a punishment.

2 . [uncountable] informal rough physical treatment:

tough plants that can take any amount of punishment

⇨ ↑ capital punishment

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ harsh/severe

The court decided the original punishment was too severe.

▪ light

The punishment seemed very light.

▪ just/fitting (=appropriate and right)

Death would be a just punishment.

▪ physical punishment

Children respond more to affection than to physical punishment.

▪ corporal punishment (=when someone punishes a child by hitting them)

Corporal punishment is banned in state schools.

▪ capital punishment (=death as a punishment for a crime)

The are trying to abolish capital punishment except in cases of terrorism.

▪ the maximum punishment

The charge against him carries a maximum punishment of a year in jail.

■ verbs

▪ give somebody a punishment

He deserved the punishment he was given.


The teacher may impose reasonable punishments.

▪ hand out punishments (=give people punishments)

The courts are handing out harsher punishments to reckless drivers.

▪ impose/mete out a punishment formal (=give someone a punishment)

Life imprisonment should be the maximum punishment meted out by the state.

▪ receive a punishment

He received the maximum punishment.

▪ escape/avoid punishment

The thieves managed to escape punishment.

▪ carry a punishment (=used when saying what the punishment for something is)

The offence carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

▪ inflict a punishment (on somebody) (=punish someone, especially physically)

The abbot could inflict corporal punishment for gross disobedience.

■ phrases

▪ the punishment should fit the crime (=it should be appropriate)

The public believe that the punishment should fit the crime.

• • •


▪ punishment something that is done in order to punish someone, or the act of punishing them:

I don’t think they deserved such a severe punishment.


The usual punishment is life in prison.

▪ sentence a punishment given by a judge in a court:

He was given a long prison sentence.


They asked for the maximum sentence.

▪ fine an amount of money that you must pay as a punishment:

I got an £80 fine for speeding.


There are heavy fines for drink-driving.

▪ penalty a general word for a punishment given to someone who has broken a law, rule, or agreement:

What’s the penalty if you get caught?


He called for stiffer penalties for crimes involving guns.

▪ the death penalty ( also capital punishment ) the system in which people are killed as a punishment for crimes:

If he is found guilty, he faces the death penalty.


A number of states have abolished capital punishment.

▪ community service unpaid work helping other people that someone does as punishment for a crime:

He was given a choice between doing 200 hours of community service, or a big fine.

▪ corporal punishment the punishment of children by hitting them:

I don’t agree with corporal punishment.


Corporal punishment was abolished in schools in 1987.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.