Definition of punitive adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈpjuːnətɪv//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpjuːnətɪv//
    [usually before noun] (formal)
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  1. 1intended as punishment There are calls for more punitive measures against people who drink and drive. (North American English) He was awarded punitive damages (= in a court of law). Punitive action will be taken against the hooligans.
  2. 2very severe and that people find very difficult to pay punitive taxes They could impose punitive tariffs of up to 100% on imports.
  3. Word Originearly 17th cent.: from French punitif, -ive or medieval Latin punitivus, from Latin punit- ‘punished’, from the verb punire, from poena ‘penalty’.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: punitive