Meaning of SENTENCE in English


I. sen ‧ tence 1 S1 W2 /ˈsent ə ns/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Latin sententia 'feeling, opinion, sentence' , from sentire ; ⇨ ↑ sentient ]

1 . a group of words that usually contains a subject and a verb, and expresses a complete idea. Sentences written in English begin with a capital letter and usually end with a ↑ full stop or a ↑ question mark :

His voice dropped at the end of the sentence.

in a sentence

It’s difficult to sum it up in one sentence.

short/simple/full/complex etc sentence

In a few short sentences, Quinn explained what he had done.

2 . a punishment that a judge gives to someone who is guilty of a crime:

She received an eight-year prison sentence.

He has just begun a life sentence for murder.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ get/receive a sentence ( also be given a sentence )

She was given a three-year prison sentence.

▪ face a sentence (=be likely to receive a sentence)

He faces a long prison sentence if he is caught.

▪ serve a sentence (=spend time in prison)

Her husband is serving a two-year sentence for credit-card fraud.

▪ a crime carries a sentence (=that is the punishment for that crime)

Rape should carry an automatic life sentence.

▪ impose/hand down a sentence (=officially give someone a sentence)

The judge imposed a three-year sentence.

▪ pass sentence formal (=officially say what someone’s punishment will be)

It is now my duty to pass sentence.

■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + sentence

▪ a stiff/long sentence (=a long time in prison)

Police officers are demanding stiffer sentences for offenders.

▪ a light/short sentence (=a short time in prison)

We’re hoping that he gets off with a light sentence.

▪ a prison/jail sentence ( also a custodial sentence British English formal )

If found guilty, he faces a long jail sentence.

▪ a non-custodial sentence British English formal (=a punishment in which a person does not go to prison)

The judge said the offence was too serious for a non-custodial sentence.

▪ a five-year/eight-year etc sentence (=five/eight etc years in prison)

He was serving an eight-year sentence for burglary.

▪ the maximum sentence (=the most that can be given for a particular crime)

The maximum sentence for this offence is five years.

▪ a life sentence (=prison for the rest of your life, or a very long time)

In 1978 he was given a life sentence for attacking a 72-year-old woman.

▪ a death sentence (=a punishment of death)

Death sentences were handed down to eight of the accused.

▪ a suspended sentence (=one which someone will serve only if they commit another crime)

Her attacker got a two-year suspended sentence.

• • •


▪ 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.

II. sentence 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

if a judge sentences someone who is guilty of a crime, they give them a punishment

sentence somebody to something

Sanchez was sentenced to three years in prison.

• • •


▪ punish to do something unpleasant to someone because they have done something wrong or broken the law:

Drug smugglers are severely punished.


She wanted to punish him for deceiving her.

▪ fine to make someone pay money as a punishment:

The company was fined for safety violations.

▪ sentence if a judge sentences a criminal, he or she gives them an official punishment, usually sending them to prison for a period of time:

The judge sentenced Margolis to a year in prison.

▪ penalize ( also penalise British English ) to officially punish someone, especially by taking away their right to do something or by limiting their freedom in some way:

New laws will penalize firms that continue to pollute the environment.

▪ discipline to punish someone who has broken the rules of an organization that they belong to or work for:

Officers are expected to discipline soldiers who do not keep their uniforms in good condition.

▪ come down hard on somebody informal to punish someone or criticize them severely:

The judge came down hard on Harris, saying that his crime was ‘inexcusable’.

▪ make an example of somebody to punish someone so that other people are afraid to do the same thing:

Athletics officials felt they had to make an example of him for using banned drugs.

▪ teach somebody a lesson informal to do something in order to show someone that they must not do something again, when they have behaved very badly:

I didn't want to hurt him - I just wanted teach him a lesson.


Maybe a night in jail will teach him a lesson.

▪ make somebody pay (for something) informal to make someone wish they had never done something, by making them suffer:

We should make him pay for all the mischief he's caused!

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