American English

Definition of penalty noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (pl. penalties)
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  1. 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 traveling 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
  2. 2penalty (of something) a disadvantage suffered as a result of something One of the penalties of fame is the loss of privacy.
  3. 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. 4(in 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. This chance is given because the other team has broken the rules; the goal or point that is given if it is successful 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.
  5. Idioms
    pay the penalty (for something/for doing something), pay a/the price (for something/for doing something)
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    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.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: penalty