avenge, revenge mean to inflict punishment on a person who has wronged oneself or another. Once close synonyms, these verbs are now increasingly divergent in implications. One may avenge or revenge (oneself or another who is wronged), but avenge is to be preferred when the motive is a desire to vindicate or to serve the ends of justice or when one visits just or merited punishment on the wrongdoer

avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints— Milton


I swear on my knees, on these stones, to avenge you on Foulon— Dickens


he had avenged himself on them by havoc such as England had never before seen— Macaulay

On the other hand, one revenges oneself or, rarely, another when one inflicts injury on or upon an offender in a desire to exact satisfaction for his offense. Revenge may imply a desire for vindication or an aim to serve the ends of justice, but more often it suggests a desire to get even, to pay back in kind or degree, and therefore variously connotes malice, spite, or an unwillingness to forgive

the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong inducement— A usten


the novelist obsessed with the errors of his past . . . is irresistibly drawn to revenge himself on his past by rewriting it— Rolo


he saw that his true policy was not to revenge himself by executions and confiscations— Stubbs

Also, one may either avenge or revenge a wrong or injury but avenge usually implies that the end is just retribution whether the activity is in one’s own or another’s behalf, whereas revenge implies that the end is retaliation and the compelling spirit of the act hatred or bitterness; thus, Orestes revenged his father’s murder by killing the murderess, his mother, but the gods avenged his matricide by driving him mad.
Analogous words: requite, recompense, compensate, *pay: vindicate, defend, justify (see MAINTAIN): *punish, chasten, chastise
Contrasted words: forbear, *refrain, abstain: remit, pardon, forgive (see EXCUSE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Avenge — A*venge , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Avenged} (?); p. pr. & vb. n. {Avenging} (?).] [OF. avengier; L. ad + vindicare to lay claim to, to avenge, revenge. See {Vengeance}.] 1. To take vengeance for; to exact satisfaction for by punishing the injuring… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • avenge — avenge, revenge The principal differences to bear in mind are (1) that you avenge a person (including yourself) or an act but revenge only an act or yourself (usually on someone), and (2) that avenge is only a verb but revenge is a noun as well… …   Modern English usage

  • avenge — (v.) late 14c., from Anglo Fr. avenger, O.Fr. avengier, from a to (see AD (Cf. ad )) + vengier take revenge (Mod.Fr. venger), from L. vindicare to claim, avenge, punish (see VINDICATE (Cf. vindicate)). Related: Avenge …   Etymology dictionary

  • avenge — avenge; avenge·ment; …   English syllables

  • avenge — [ə venj′] vt., vi. avenged, avenging [ME avengen < OFr avengier < a (L ad), to + vengier < L vindicare, to claim: see VINDICATE] 1. to get revenge for (an injury, wrong, etc.) 2. to take vengeance on behalf of, as for a wrong avenger n.… …   English World dictionary

  • Avenge — A*venge , v. i. To take vengeance. Levit. xix. 18. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Avenge — A*venge , n. Vengeance; revenge. [Obs.] Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • avenge — index penalize, repay, retaliate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • avenge — [v] retaliate chasten, chastise, come back at, even the score, get back at, get even, payback, punish, redress, repay, requite, retribute, revenge, stick it to, take satisfaction, take vengeance, venge, vindicate; concepts 122,126 …   New thesaurus

  • avenge — ► VERB ▪ inflict harm in return for (a wrong). DERIVATIVES avenger noun. ORIGIN Old French avengier, from Latin vindicare vindicate …   English terms dictionary

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