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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Business as usual was good for many; others feared reprisals from white bosses if they got too political.
▪ Demonstrators surged through the capital city yesterday, ignoring threats of reprisals from the government.
▪ His murder was a reprisal for an injury to a rival gang member.
▪ Some people will not report attacks to the police for fear of reprisals.
▪ A reprisal for her unwillingness to co-operate last night?
▪ Between 1953 and 1955, the United States could have effectively destroyed the Soviet Union with little likelihood of serious reprisal.
▪ Business as usual was good for many; others feared reprisals from white bosses if they got too political.
▪ Even though they were alive, my parents were afraid to write to them for fear of further reprisals against them.
▪ He'd lost a cousin and some good friends in these reprisals.
▪ In the distance smoke rose over the old city, where Hindu mobs were massacring Sikhs in reprisal for Indira's assassination.
▪ It was claimed that it made rural communities vulnerable to guerrilla reprisals.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Reprisal \Re*pris"al\ (r?-priz"al), n. [F. repr?saille, It. ripresaglia, rappresaglia, LL. reprensaliae, fr. L. reprehendere, reprehensum. See Reprehend, Reprise.]

  1. The act of taking from an enemy by way of reteliation or indemnity.

    Debatable ground, on which incursions and reprisals continued to take place.

  2. Anything taken from an enemy in retaliation.

  3. The act of retorting on an enemy by inflicting suffering or death on a prisoner taken from him, in retaliation for an act of inhumanity.
    --Vattel (Trans.)

  4. Any act of retaliation.

    Letters of marque and reprisal. See under Marque.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., "seizing property or citizens of another nation in retaliation for loss inflicted on one's own," from Anglo-French reprisaille (14c.), from Old French reprisaille (Modern French représaille), from early Italian ripresaglia, from ripreso, past participle of riprendere "take back," from Latin reprendere, earlier reprehendere (see reprehend). General sense of "retaliation" is from 1710.


n. 1 An act of retaliation. 2 (context archaic English) Something taken from an enemy in retaliation. 3 (context archaic English) The act of taking something from an enemy by way of retaliation or indemnity.


n. a retaliatory action against an enemy in wartime


A reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breached the rights of non-combatants, an action outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. It is not to be confused with retorsions, as these constitute unfriendly acts generally permitted by international law.

Usage examples of "reprisal".

The order has therefore been given to amputate without hesitation, as reprisals, every damaged limb.

Guillaume, worn down by the inconveniences of excommunication, determined, since he was afraid of no one, to himself accost the man of God boldly with threats of reprisal.

Once I opened my eyes to see a great raw dick dangling two inches from my nose, like a pornographic reprisal.

Thereafter matters degenerated into random and sporadic acts of violence followed by increasingly cruel reprisals which spread beyond Potcher to involve the eastern counties of Barfezi.

More than one underground subculture had discovered it was perfect for distributing information with little chance of reprisal: anarchists, kiddie-porn rings, music and video pirates.

Thus, unchronicled amid the battles and the sieges, there broke out another war, a war of individuals, with foul murder upon the one side and brutal reprisal on the other.

A sort of chronic warfare of aggression and reprisal, closely akin to piracy, was carried on at intervals in Acadian waters by French private armed vessels on one hand, and New England private armed vessels on the other.

The Angevin, who above all things liked to count and consolidate his gains in conflict, foresaw a long train of inconclusive aggressions and reprisals between church and state in which his arm, however powerful, could not effectively come at the ghostly armor of his antagonist.

Certainly from that time on, hatred spread throughout the Auca country, and a legacy of reprisal has been passed on from father to son.

We decided that we would have to impress on them the danger to them personally if word of the location of the Aucas got around and if, as a result, there were attacks on the Aucas by the Quichuas or others followed by Auca reprisal raids.

The Chaka were fean, tough fighters, despite the times their hopeful depredations had resulted in measured reprisals from the more powerful leagues.

September 11, fearing reprisals against Saudi nationals, Rihab Massoud, the deputy chief of mission at the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.

Our response to the incidents off Planet Pluto is that we reject reprisal merely for vengeance, or for imposing ourselves on the Plutonian people.

English ports soon began to be filled with them, in consequence of the general orders for making reprisals.

Had his invasion of Kuwait been without reprisals, he would have continued to take the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia.