verb (used with object)
- to subject to pain, loss, confinement, death, etc., as a penalty for some offense, transgression, or fault: to punish a criminal.
- to inflict a penalty for (an offense, fault, etc.): to punish theft.
- to handle severely or roughly, as in a fight.
- to put to painful exertion, as a horse in racing.
- Informal. to make a heavy inroad on; deplete: to punish a quart of whiskey.
verb (used without object)
- to inflict punishment.
- not receiving or having received a penalty or sanction as punishment for any crime or offence
- to force (someone) to undergo a penalty or sanction, such as imprisonment, fines, death, etc, for some crime or misdemeanour
- (tr) to inflict punishment for (some crime, etc)
- (tr) to use or treat harshly or roughly, esp as by overexertionto punish a horse
- (tr) informal to consume (some commodity) in large quantitiesto punish the bottle
v.c.1300, from Old French puniss-, extended present participle stem of punir “to punish,” from Latin punire “punish, correct, chastise; take vengeance for; inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense,” earlier poenire, from poena “penalty, punishment” (see penal). Colloquial meaning “to inflict heavy damage or loss” is first recorded 1801, originally in boxing. Related: Punished; punishing.