Vengeance or revenge?

Most dictionaries seem to define ‘revenge’ and ‘vengeance’ as synonyms, but I am not sure. ‘Revenge’ implies retaliation or the causing of injury to the offender, whereas ‘vengeance’ takes it one step further: harming the offender in retaliation for something harmful they’ve done. In Spanish, we have ‘venganza’ (noun) and ‘vengarse’ (intransitive verb).

This comparative thought was brought on by a reading of an article in this week’s The Economist, titled “Rough Justice.” One paragraph reflects on the sense of vengeance in its virulent form –apparently:

“The most dangerous criminals must be locked up, but states could try harder to reintegrate the softer cases into society, by encouraging them to study or work and by ending the pointlessly vindictive gesture of not letting them vote.”

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Filed under Etymology, Glossary, Terminology, Vocabulary

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