1530s, "act of inflicting;" 1580s, "that which is inflicted," from French infliction (15c.), or directly from Late Latin inflictionem (nominative inflictio) "an inflicting, a striking against," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin infligere "to strike or dash against" (see inflict).
c. 1300, punishen, "inflict a penalty on," from Old French puniss-, extended present-participle stem of punir "to punish," from Latin punire "punish, correct, chastise; take vengeance for; inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense," earlier poenire, from poena "penalty, punishment" (see penal). Colloquial meaning "to inflict heavy damage or loss" is recorded from 1801, originally in pugilism. Related: Punished; punishing.