penalty - definition and synonyms

noun [countable] 

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  1. 1
    a punishment for breaking a rule or law
    penalty for:

    The maximum penalty for the offence is two yearsimprisonment.

    severe/heavy/stiff/tough penalties:

    There are severe penalties for companies who breach environmental laws.

    Under the law the president is able to impose tough penalties.

    carry a penalty:

    The crime carries a much heavier penalty in the US.

    1. a.
  2. 2
    something bad that happens to you because of your behaviour or position in society
    penalty of/for:

    Increased risk of skin cancer is one of the penalties of sunbathing.

    pay the penalty (for something) (=to suffer because of your behaviour):

    Some growers are paying the penalty for not watering crops sufficiently in hot weather.

  3. 3
    in football, rugby, and similar sports, a chance to score a goal or point without other players trying to take the ball off you. This is given to you because an opponent has broken a rule

    They scored from a penalty awarded when Jenkins handled the ball.

    take a penalty:

    The skipper told me I had to take the penalty and I was delighted.

    miss a penalty:

    Southgate missed a penalty that would have won them the match.

    kick a penalty (=in rugby):

    Fox kicked a last-minute penalty to give the All-Blacks a sensational victory.