Definition of punishment noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈpʌnɪʃmənt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpʌnɪʃmənt//
    Types of punishment
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  1. 1  [uncountable, countable] an act or a way of punishing somebody to inflict/impose/mete out punishment punishment (for something) What is the punishment for murder? There is little evidence that harsher punishments deter any better than more lenient ones. The punishment should fit the crime. He was sent to his room as a punishment. see also capital punishment, corporal punishment CulturepunishmentPunishment for people who break the law is decided in a court of law. In the US federal, state and local governments each have their own systems of law and of punishment. The Constitution forbids ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, but it is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to decide whether a punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’. In Britain, the Scottish legal system is different from that in England and Wales, but methods of punishment are similar throughout Britain.When an accused person is found guilty of a crime, the judge decides what punishment they should suffer. In both Britain and the US the least serious offences are punished by fines (= financial payments) which must be paid to the court. Fines or fixed penalties (= fines at a level decided in advance) are often imposed for minor traffic offences such as parking illegally and can be paid without the need to go to court.If a fine is not considered adequate, a person may be sentenced to do community service (= work without pay in hospitals, homes for old people, etc.) or be put on probation (= required to have regular meetings with a social worker over a set period). When the crime committed is more serious, the convicted person (= person found guilty) is likely to be given a prison sentence. If it is their first offence (= the first time a person has broken the law) the sentence may be suspended (= only carried out if the person is found guilty of another crime) and the person is allowed to remain free on a conditional discharge.If a person is given a prison sentence its length depends on how serious their crime is and on their past record (= the number of crimes they have committed). If a person thinks the sentence is too severe they have the right to appeal against it in a higher court, which has the power to reduce the sentence. As a reward for good behaviour prisoners are often given remission (= are released early). Others get parole, which means that they can go free as long as they do not commit any further crimes. In the US the number of people on probation has increased in recent years, as there is not always room in prisons for all those given a prison sentence. A variety of non-custodial punishments (= ones not requiring time in prison) have been tried in both Britain and the US, including electronic tagging. This punishment requires people to wear a device that informs the police where they are.In Britain the maximum sentence that can be handed down (= decided) by a judge is a life sentence, which in fact usually means spending about 20-25 years in prison. The most serious punishment in the US is the death penalty. Not all states allow capital punishment, and, in those that do, there may be many years of appeals before it can be carried out. See related entries: Types of punishment
  2. 2[uncountable] rough treatment The carpet by the door takes the most punishment.
  3. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French punissement, from the verb punir ‘punish’, from Latin punire, from poena ‘penalty’.Extra examples He had his privileges withdrawn as punishment for fighting with another prisoner. He was compelled on pain of punishment to answer the question. It is unlawful for a teacher to inflict corporal punishment on pupils. Punishments for killing the king’s deer were severe. She had to tidy the classroom as punishment for being late. Take your punishment like a man. The victim’s family do not believe that this punishment fits the crime. They use a system of reward and punishment to discipline their children. the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment the sociology of crime and punishment He believed that certain forms of physical punishment could be effective in some cases. He was sent to his room as a punishment. The refugees could not return without fear of punishment. There is little evidence that harsher punishments deter people.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: punishment