Avenge or Revenge?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Avenge" and "Revenge"?

"Avenge" and "revenge" are easy to confuse because they sound similar and both relate to getting payback.
  • "Avenge" means to get payback on behalf of another. For example:
    • You hurt my brother. Therefore, I will avenge my brother by hurting you.
  • "Revenge" means to get payback for yourself. For example:
    • You hurt me. Therefore, I will seek revenge against you.
    • You hurt me. Therefore, I will seek revenge for your action against me.
    The word "revenge" is most commonly seen as a noun, as in the examples above. However, it can also be used as a verb. For example:
    • You hurt me. Therefore, I will revenge myself by hurting you.
    • You hurt me. Therefore, I will revenge your action against me.
    • You hurt me. Therefore, I will revenge you.
    • (This is not how the verb "to revenge" works.)
avenge or revenge?

More about "Avenge" and "Revenge"

Avenge

The verb "to avenge" means to seek retribution on behalf of somebody else. It contrasts with "revenge," which is about seeking retribution for yourself.

Example sentences with "avenge":
  • She vowed to avenge her brother's death.
  • (This means she is seeking retribution on behalf of her brother, not for herself.)
  • Follow me if I advance; kill me if I retreat; avenge me if I die. (Vietnamese battle cry)
  • (The narrator of this battle cry is asking his audience to seek retribution on his behalf, not for themselves.)

Revenge

The noun "revenge" means gaining satisfaction by harming someone in return for a wrongdoing suffered at their hands. (The person seeking the revenge does not have to be the same person inflicted by the wrongdoing (although it usually is) but is the person who gains satisfaction. Therefore, it is possible to achieve revenge (i.e., to gain satisfaction) by avenging on behalf of another.)

Example sentences with "revenge":
  • The best revenge is massive success. (Singer Frank Sinatra)
  • Revenge is not always sweet. Once it is consummated, we feel inferior to our victim. (Philosopher Emile M Cioran)

Summary

  • "Avenge" means to get payback for the inflicted party.
  • "Revenge" means "to get payback as the inflicted party."

Ready for the Test?

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? How to write "dos and don'ts" who's or whose? lasagna or lasagne? List of easily confused words

Page URL