Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A punishment imposed for a violation of law.
  • noun A sum established by a contract to be forfeited in lieu of actual damages in the event of a breach of the contract.
  • noun The disadvantage or painful consequences resulting from an action or condition.
  • noun A punishment, handicap, or loss of advantage imposed on a team or competitor for infraction of a rule.
  • noun An infraction of a rule; a foul.
  • noun Games Points scored in contract bridge by the opponents when the declarer fails to make a bid.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Suffering, in person or property, as a punishment annexed by law or judicial decision to a violation of law; penal retribution.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Money recoverable by virtue of a penal statute; a fine; a mulct.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Sporting Cant A handicap.
  • noun See under Bill.
  • noun on pain of; with exposure to the penalty of, in case of transgression.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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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