Vengeance, retaliation

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I found these two words in an article in Time concerning the death of bin Laden: you want to see vengeance, you want to see retaliation, you want to see satisfaction. As far as I can see, vengeance and retaliation has similar meaning. Or not?


Sverre Olav Lundal
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    When you retaliate, you will not usually go beyond what has been done to you.

    Vengeance is a bit more unlimited, the way I see it, as well as less "sanctioned".

    In politics, however, retaliation is the word used for vengeance :)

    I think you are right, though - they are very similar.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To me, vengeance is more emotional, retaliation more logical.

    Of course, what an avenger or retaliator sees as logical may not look the same from the other side - or even to an objective third party, if such a person can be said to exist. Thus, one person may say "I'm retaliating," while the other says "It's just vengeance."
    We may say that retaliation is the result av the action of vengeance?

    Hi, no, it is true that acts are similar, but as some above have suggested, retaliation is doing back to the original attacker what was first done to the person or entity attacked, and there is some kind of perceived logical balance going on.

    Vengence is a down deep, teeth gritting, planned, smoldering, lingering attempt to punish.

    When you were a child and another child slapped you and you slapped the other child back, either right then or later, you retaliated.

    If that retaliation wasn't enough, though, and for weeks and months you started thinking about getting back at the child again, and one day rushed out from a bush and hit the child over the head with a big rock, that is vengence.

    That is why the writer used the two words, because in emotion and and proportion they are not the same thing.
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