Word of the Week: Vengeance

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Vengeance is such a strong word. We liken it with so many heroes or antiheroes that are revenging on one thing or another for the ones they loved (or for themselves). But, what is vengeance really? Is it like we think (just extreme revenge for an insult), or a little bit more?

Today we define vengeance in anticipation for a week of vengeance-filled readings and posts. Let’s dive in!


Merriam-Webster defines vengeance as a “punishment inflicted in retaliation” for an “offense.” Similarly, the synonym they provide is “Retribution.” These two ideas—both vengeance and retribution—operate as modes of comeuppance, and, in some cases, just desserts.

Furthermore, the Cambridge Dictionary defines “vengeance” as “punishing” somebody “for harming you or your friends or family…” What is more, the Britannica Dictionary defines “vengeance” in more simplistic terms: “the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else.”


What can be discerned, I think, is that there are heavy tones of “eye for an eye” in the definition not explicitly stated. The difference is that whereas “eye for an eye” may instruct an individual to retaliate in accordance with a measure, or at least to a degree, “vengeance” is simply the word for “response to injustice or perceived injury.”

That is to say, vengeance has no appropriate degree to which it is to be assessed. You killed my dog? I will burn your house down and hunt your family. This week, the stories we read reek of vengeance, which is sometimes warranted…and sometimes not.