punitive damages Word Origin plural noun Law.
- damages awarded to a plaintiff in excess of compensatory damages in order to punish the defendant for a reckless or willful act.
Compare. Origin of punitive damages First recorded in 1970–75 Also called exemplary damages. Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019 British Dictionary definitions for exemplary damages exemplary damages pl n
- law damages awarded to a plaintiff above the value of actual loss sustained so that they serve also as a punishment to the defendant and a deterrent to others
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