Meaning of “punish” in the English Dictionary

"punish" in British English

See all translations

punishverb [ T ]

uk /ˈpʌn.ɪʃ/ us /ˈpʌn.ɪʃ/

punish verb [ T ] (CRIME)

B1 to cause someone who has done something wrong or committed a crime to suffer, by hurting them, forcing them to pay money, sending them to prison, etc.:

Those responsible for these crimes must be brought to court and punished.
He punished the class by giving them extra work.
The oil company was found guilty on ten counts of pollution, and was punished with a $250 million fine.
See also

to punish anyone who commits a particular crime:

Drunken driving can be punished with a prison sentence.

More examples

  • Even minor infringements of the law will be severely punished.
  • Instead of simply punishing them, the system encourages offenders to modify their behaviour.
  • He said that when he was a boy, his father used to take a stick to him to punish him.
  • They were punished by being made to stand out in the cold.
  • She was punished for smoking on school premises.

(Definition of “punish” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"punish" in American English

See all translations

punishverb [ T ]

us /ˈpʌn·ɪʃ/

to cause people who have done something wrong or committed a crime to suffer by making them do something they don’t want to do or sending them to prison:

She was punished for being late to school.
adjective us /ˈpʌn·ɪ·ʃə·bəl/

Swimming in the Potomac is punishable by a fine.
noun [ C/U ] us /ˈpʌn·ɪʃ·mənt/

[ C ] Serving your community is seen as a punishment these days.

(Definition of “punish” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)