- 1a punishment for breaking a law, rule or contract to impose a penalty Assault carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment. penalty (for something) The penalty for travelling without a ticket is £200. Contractors who fall behind schedule incur heavy financial penalties. a penalty clause in a contract You can withdraw money from the account at any time without penalty. Harsher penalties are being imposed for crimes involving firearms. see also death penalty See related entries: Types of punishment, Economy
- 2penalty (of something) a disadvantage suffered as a result of something One of the penalties of fame is loss of privacy.
- 3(in sports and games) a disadvantage given to a player or a team when they break a rule He incurred a ten-second penalty in the first round.
- 4(in football (soccer ) and some other similar sports) a chance to score a goal or point without any defending players, except the goalkeeper, trying to stop it; the goal or point that is given if it is successful. This chance is given because the other team has broken the rules. Two minutes later Ford equalized with a penalty. We were awarded a penalty after a late tackle. I volunteered to take the penalty (= be the person who tries to score the goal/point) He missed a penalty in the last minute of the game. See related entries: Soccer Word Origin early 16th cent.: probably via Anglo-Norman French, from medieval Latin poenalitas, based on poena
to suffer because of bad luck, a mistake or something you have done He looked terrible this morning. I think he's paying the penalty for all those late nights. They're now paying the price for past mistakes. She thinks that any inconvenience is a price worth paying for living in such a beautiful place.