Please explain me. I tried the dictionaries but they do not help.

For example ODO gives the following for revenge:

  1. Inflict hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong done to oneself:- I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you

1.1 [WITH OBJECT] Inflict revenge on behalf of (someone else): - it’s a pity he chose that way to revenge his sister

1.2 Inflict retribution for (a wrong or injury done to oneself or another): - her brother was slain, and she revenged his death

... and it gives this for avenge:

1 Inflict harm in return for (an injury or wrong done to oneself or another):- he vowed in silent fervour to avenge their murders

1.1 Inflict harm in return for an injury or wrong on behalf of (oneself or another): - we must avenge our dead - they avenged themselves on the interlopers

As you can see these two sets of definitions seem interchangable.

  • 4
    At times, little beyond dictionaries help. In fact, simply typing the same question on Google gives great answer like this, this and this!
    – Maulik V
    Jan 22, 2016 at 11:34
  • 6
    @MaulikV I don't think it's appropriate to close a question on here because of an answer on EL&U. Importantly the answers there aren't very good especially for language learners. The plain fact of the matter is that we don't use the verb revenge very much in modern English. We generally use revenge as a noun and avenge as a verb. Jan 22, 2016 at 13:19
  • 3
    @Araucaria It is gen ref. I would have done the same thing. The OP should include some research, too especially when (s)he is not new.
    – user24743
    Jan 22, 2016 at 13:44
  • 2
    @Araucaria The Oxford learner's dictionary explains the difference if you look up avenge Also, learner's dictionaries almost universally define avenge as a verb and revenge as a noun.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:02
  • 1
    @Araucaria Nice edit +1). How can we explain the difference when the OP doesn't understand it using a dictionary? Let me think about it.
    – user24743
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


Avenge is when you 'feel' that you are going to inflict hurt or harm on someone because to you that person was the one who caused harm to you (or someone / something close to you) first in a highly wrong and unprovoked manner, thereby 'settling' the score, to get 'even', to get justice done.

Revenge is the same reaction but can be thought of as just to inflict hurt or harm, because you feel angered, but there is hardly any evidence who is in the 'right'.


People avenge a (perceived) wrong. To avenge oneself has connotations of justice meted out, at least in the eyes of the avenger. In honor-based societies, to avenge oneself or to avenge something or other is a respected form of redress. In modern societies with judicial systems, the ideas associated with the act of avenging oneself are rather anachronistic. It usually involves a killing.

Revenge on the other hand is often about something petty, without regard for any honor-based or justice-based principle. It can take petty forms, far less drastic than homicide, such as butting in line or not inviting someone to a party. People in modern societies are always getting their revenge and taking revenge or seeking revenge, but they are rarely avenging themselves.

  • Strange how this is the diametric opposite to rkchl's answer. I personally find neither to be correct in all circumstances.
    – 16807
    Jan 22, 2016 at 22:24

I like the following:

Avenge is a verb. To avenge is to punish a wrongdoing with the intent of seeing justice done. Revenge can be used as a noun or a verb. It is more personal, less concerned with justice and more about retaliation by inflicting harm.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .