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1. Punishment administered in return for a wrong committed.
2. Theology Punishment or reward distributed in a future life based on performance in this one.

[Middle English retribucion, repayment, reward, from Old French retribution, from Late Latin retribūtiō, retribūtiōn-, from Latin retribūtus, past participle of retribuere, to pay back : re-, re- + tribuere, to grant; see tribe.]

re·trib′u·tive (rĭ-trĭb′yə-tĭv), re·trib′u·to·ry (-tôr′ē) adj.
re·trib′u·tive·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the act of punishing or taking vengeance for wrongdoing, sin, or injury
2. punishment or vengeance
[C14: via Old French from Church Latin retribūtiō, from Latin retribuere to repay, from re- + tribuere to pay; see tribute]
retributive, reˈtributory adj
reˈtributively adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌrɛ trəˈbyu ʃən)

1. requital according to merits or deserts, esp. for evil.
2. something given or inflicted in such requital.
3. Theol. the distribution of rewards and punishments in a future life.
[1350–1400; Middle English retribucioun < Middle French < Late Latin retribūtiō (calque of Greek antídosis) = Latin retribū-, variant s. of retribuere to give back (something owed) (see re-, tribute) + -tiō -tion]
syn: See revenge.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.




chickens come home to roost An expression indicating that one has received his just deserts or met with a comeuppance. Robert Southey makes reference to this proverbial expression in The Curse of Kehama (1810):

Curses are like young chickens: they always come home to roost.

have the last laugh See SUCCESS.

laugh on the other side of one’s face or mouth To experience a comedown or to undergo a radical change in mood from happiness to sadness, usually as a result of meeting one’s comeuppance; to be sad, disappointed, or depressed; to fail after expecting or experiencing success, with the implication that such failure is deserved. Though the derivation of this expression is uncertain, it may refer to the fact that in a frown, the lips are turned down rather than up as in a smile.

We were made to laugh on the other side of our mouth by an unforeseen occurrence. (Benjamin Malkin, LeSage’s Adventures of Gil Bias of Santillane, 1809)

A variation is laugh on the wrong side of one’s face or mouth.

the mills of God grind slowly Retribution may be slow in coming, but justice will eventually triumph; sooner or later everyone will get what he deserves. This expression, a variant of which dates from the early 17th century, applies the metaphor of a mill grinding grain to the meting out of justice by the Almighty. The phrase appeared in the poem Retribution by Henry Wads-worth Longfellow:

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.

the shoe is on the other foot See REVERSAL.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.retribution - a justly deserved penalty
penalty - a payment required for not fulfilling a contract
2.retribution - the act of correcting for your wrongdoing
correction, rectification - the act of offering an improvement to replace a mistake; setting right
3.retribution - the act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done) especially in the next liferetribution - the act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done) especially in the next life; "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord"--Romans 12:19; "For vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge"--James Garfield; "he swore vengeance on the man who betrayed him"; "the swiftness of divine retribution"
retaliation, revenge - action taken in return for an injury or offense
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun punishment, retaliation, reprisal, redress, justice, reward, reckoning, compensation, satisfaction, revenge, repayment, vengeance, Nemesis, recompense, an eye for an eye, requital He decided to get his retribution in first.
"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;"
"Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all" [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Retribution]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The act of retaliating:
Idioms: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, like for like , measure for measure .
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
جَزاء، عِقاب
réttlát refsing, makleg málagjöld
pelnyta bausmė
hak edilen ceza


[ˌretrɪˈbjuːʃən] Njusto castigo m, pena f merecida
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌrɛtrɪˈbjuːʃən] nchâtiment m
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nVergeltung f; in retributionals Vergeltung
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌrɛtrɪˈbjuːʃn] ncastigo
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(retriˈbjuːʃən) noun
punishment, especially deserved.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
For this is your truth: ye are TOO PURE for the filth of the words: vengeance, punishment, recompense, retribution.
A just retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle.
What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears.
The lessons of yesterday had been that retribution was a laggard and blind.
If there had been a possibility of making Adam tenfold amends--if deeds of gift, or any other deeds, could have restored Adam's contentment and regard for him as a benefactor, Arthur would not only have executed them without hesitation, but would have felt bound all the more closely to Adam, and would never have been weary of making retribution. But Adam could receive no amends; his suffering could not be cancelled; his respect and affection could not be recovered by any prompt deeds of atonement.
Yes, a dangerous matter -- so dangerous that even the most saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with bated breath, lest something which fell from their lips might be misconstrued, and bring down a swift retribution upon them.
"Is it not a just retribution?" I could not help but ask.
So deeply inherent is it in this life of ours that men have to suffer for each other's sins, so inevitably diffusive is human suffering, that even justice makes its victims, and we can conceive no retribution that does not spread beyond its mark in pulsations of unmerited pain.
Think not that I shall interfere with Heaven's own method of retribution, or, to my own loss, betray him to the gripe of human law.
Excess had brought on that frightful disease that seems to throw the lurid shadows of a coming retribution back into the present life.
The retribution that followed every vengeful success was so sweeping and majestic that the boys always retired from the field badly worsted.
Exorbitant duties on imported articles would beget a general spirit of smuggling; which is always prejudicial to the fair trader, and eventually to the revenue itself: they tend to render other classes of the community tributary, in an improper degree, to the manufacturing classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of the markets; they sometimes force industry out of its more natural channels into others in which it flows with less advantage; and in the last place, they oppress the merchant, who is often obliged to pay them himself without any retribution from the consumer.