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

  • intransitive v. To return like for like, especially evil for evil.
  • transitive v. To pay back (an injury) in kind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To do something harmful or negative to get revenge for some harm; to fight back or respond in kind to an injury or affront.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To return like for like; specifically, to return evil for evil.
  • transitive v. To return the like for; to repay or requite by an act of the same kind; to return evil for (evil). [Now seldom used except in a bad sense.]

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To return in kind; repay or requite by an act of the same kind: now seldom or never used except in the sense of returning evil for evil: as, to retaliate injuries.
  • To return like for like; especially (now usually), to return evil for evil.
  • Synonyms See revenge, n.

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

  • v. take revenge for a perceived wrong
  • v. make a counterattack and return like for like, especially evil for evil


Late Latin retāliāre, retāliāt- : Latin re-, re- + Latin tāliō, punishment in kind; see telə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin retaliatus, past participle of retaliare ("to requite, retaliate"), from re ("back, again") + talis ("such"). (Wiktionary)


  • However, attempting to retaliate is either futile or dangerous ethically due to c.

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  • Dorian Warren " Boeing is Wrong, the NLRB Is Right ," Letters, May 11 use a definition of "retaliate" that my dictionary doesn't have.

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  • If one person defects, harming the environment and thus the interests of others, then a common way for fellow players to retaliate is to defect as well.


  • If you look into how baseball works, it looked like ... maybe he thought the way to retaliate is to throw and protect his guys.

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  • If the French shoot themselves in the foot, there is no reason for us to "retaliate" by shooting ourselves in the foot.

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  • Now we're into a subtlety of the baseball code: Did Morgan "retaliate" by stealing the bases?

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  • North Korea has told a visiting American politician that it would allow international inspectors to visit a newly unveiled uranium-enrichment facility and announced Monday that it would not "retaliate" against South Korea for conducting military exercises - gestures that seemed intended to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula, at least for the time being.

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  • Hillary said she would "retaliate" (after finding out who was responsible) and got great accolades.

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  • I liked how he identified a plan of action rather than a knee jerk 'retaliate' response to the question about the US being attacked.

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