- The definition of a penalty is a punishment, fine or a negative result of an act.
An example of a penalty is having to attend traffic school for a getting a speeding ticket.
penalty definition by Webster's New World
- a punishment fixed by law, as for a crime or breach of contract
- the disadvantage, suffering, handicap, etc. imposed upon an offender or one who does not fulfill a contract or obligation, as a fine or forfeit; specif., a forfeit paid for withdrawal before maturity of invested funds
- any unfortunate consequence or result of an act or condition
- Sports any disadvantage, as a loss of yardage or the removal of a player, imposed because of infraction of a rule
Origin: Late Middle English penalyte ; from Midieval Latin poenalitas ; from Classical Latin poenalis: see penal
penalty definition by American Heritage Dictionary
noun pl. pen·al·ties
- A punishment established by law or authority for a crime or offense.
- Something, especially a sum of money, required as a forfeit for an offense.
- The disadvantage or painful consequences resulting from an action or condition: neglected his health and paid the penalty.
- Sports a. A punishment, handicap, or loss of advantage imposed on a team or competitor for infraction of a rule.b. An infraction of a rule; a foul.
- Games Points scored in contract bridge by the opponents when the declarer fails to make a bid. Often used in the plural.
Origin: Middle English penalte, from Old French penalite, from Medieval Latin poenālitās, from Latin poenālis, penal; see penal.