retribution (n.)

late 14c., retribucioun, "repayment," from Old French retribution, retribucion, and directly from Latin retributionem (nominative retributio) "recompense, repayment," noun of action from past-participle stem of retribuere "hand back, repay," from re- "back" (see re-) + tribuere "to assign, allot" (see tribute).

Originally "that which is given in return for past good or evil," but modern use tends to be restricted to "evil given for evil done." Day of retribution (1520s), in Christian theology, is the time of divine reward or punishment in a future life.

updated on July 30, 2021