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Retaliation vs Reprisal vs Revenge vs Vengeance vs Retribution

Retaliation, reprisalrevengevengeanceretribution can all mean both the act of inflicting or the intent to inflict injury in return for injury, and the injury so inflicted.

Retaliation implies a return of like for like, commonly a return of evil for evil.

Reprisal applies specifically to an act of retaliation indulged in for the sake of gaining redress of a grievance or of compelling an enemy or antagonist to cease unlawful acts. The term in legal use usually implies the seizure of property by force either as a means of getting compensation for one’s own injuries or of inflicting punishment; when used in reference to nations, it need not imply an act of war.

Revenge usually carries a strong implication of vindictiveness or sometimes of justifiable anger that is lacking in retaliation; the term more often applies to the desire or intent to inflict injury or to the gratification of that desire than to the actual infliction of injury.

Vengeance may imply the avenging of a wrong done to oneself or another by measures that punish the offender so that he suffers in the same degree as his victim, but the term is also applicable to an act committed in gratification of one’s revenge.

Retribution also applies chiefly to a punishment inflicted in return for a wrong done. Distinctively it stresses the operation of strict justice, and is especially appropriate when merited punishment is administered, not by the victim, but by a higher power or impersonal chance.