from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A punishment established by law or authority for a crime or offense.
  • n. Something, especially a sum of money, required as a forfeit for an offense.
  • n. The disadvantage or painful consequences resulting from an action or condition: neglected his health and paid the penalty.
  • n. Sports A punishment, handicap, or loss of advantage imposed on a team or competitor for infraction of a rule.
  • n. Sports An infraction of a rule; a foul.
  • n. Games Points scored in contract bridge by the opponents when the declarer fails to make a bid. Often used in the plural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A legal sentence.
  • n. A punishment for violating rules of procedure.
  • n. A payment forfeited for an early withdrawal from an account or an investment.
  • n. A direct free kick from the penalty spot, taken after a defensive foul in the penalty box.
  • n. A punishment for an infraction of the rules, often in the form of being removed from play for a specified amount of time.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Penal retribution; punishment for crime or offense; the suffering in person or property which is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime, offense, or trespass.
  • n. The suffering, or the sum to be forfeited, to which a person subjects himself by covenant or agreement, in case of nonfulfillment of stipulations; forfeiture; fine.
  • n. A handicap.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Suffering, in person or property, as a punishment annexed by law or judicial decision to a violation of law; penal retribution.
  • n. The loss or burden to which a person subjects himself by covenant or agreement in ease of the non-fulfilment of an obligation; the forfeiture or sum to be forfeited for non-payment, or for non-compliance with an agreement: as, the penalty stipulated in a bond.
  • n. Money recoverable by virtue of a penal statute; a fine; a mulct.
  • n. Hence The painful consequences which follow some particular course of action, or are invariably attached to some state or condition: as, the penalty of carelessness, or of riches; he paid the penalty of his rashness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of punishing
  • n. (games) a handicap or disadvantage that is imposed on a competitor (or a team) for an infraction of the rules of the game
  • n. a payment required for not fulfilling a contract
  • n. the disadvantage or painful consequences of an action or condition


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English penalte, from Old French penalite, from Medieval Latin poenālitās, from Latin poenālis, penal; see penal.



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