Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “penalty”

penalty

noun [C]    /ˈpen·əl·ti/
a punishment, esp. the usual one, for breaking a law: Repeat offenders should face stiff/tough penalties. A penalty is also a type of punishment for breaking an agreement or not following rules: If you pay off the loan early, they’ll charge an extra month’s interest as a prepayment penalty. When a football team gives up 143 yards in penalties, they deserve to lose.
(Definition of penalty noun from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of penalty

Definitions of “penalty” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

well in (with)

to have a good relationship with someone in which they like you and from which you get an advantage

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More