v. pun·ished, pun·ish·ing, pun·ish·es
1. To subject to a penalty for an offense, sin, or fault.
2. To inflict a penalty for (an offense).
3. To handle or use roughly; damage or hurt: My boots were punished by our long trek through the desert.
To exact or mete out punishment.
[Middle English punissen, punishen, from Old French punir, puniss-, from Latin poenīre, pūnīre, from poena, punishment, from Greek poinē; see kwei-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: punish, chastise, discipline, castigate, penalize
These verbs mean to subject a person to something negative for an offense, sin, or fault. Punish is the least specific: The principal punished the students who were caught cheating. Chastise historically has entailed corporal punishment but now usually involves a verbal rebuke as a means of effecting improvement in behavior: The sarcastic child was roundly chastised for insolence. Discipline stresses punishment inflicted by an authority in order to control or to eliminate unacceptable conduct: The worker was disciplined for insubordination. Castigate means to censure or criticize severely, often in public: The judge castigated the attorney for badgering the witness. Penalize usually implies the forfeiture of money or of a privilege or gain because rules or regulations have been broken: Those who file their income-tax returns late will be penalized.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.