early 15c., "compensation, payment for a debt or obligation; satisfaction, amends; retribution, punishment," from Medieval Latin recompensa and Old French recompense (13c., related to recompenser "make good, recompense"), from Late Latin recompensare (see recompense (v.)).
c. 1400, recompensen, "to redress, provide as an equivalent," from Old French recompenser (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin recompensare "to reward, remunerate," from Latin re- "again" (see re-) + compensare "balance out," literally "weigh together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + pensare, frequentative of pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin"). For the financial sense of the Latin verb, see pound (n.1).
From early 15c. as "to compensate, pay for services rendered or for loss of property, rights, etc.; make amends; dispense punishments or rewards." Related: Recompensed; recompensing.