late 14c., punishement, in law, "the assessing or inflicting of pain, suffering, loss, confinement, etc. on a person for a crime or offense," from Anglo-French punisement (late 13c.), Old French punissement, from punir (see punish).
From early 15c. as "suffering or hardship inflicted as punishment;" mid-15c. as "a penalty or sentence imposed as punishment." Gradually extended to "pain or injury inflicted" in a general sense; the meaning "rough handling" is from 1811, originally in fist-fighting.