Avenge or Revenge?

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between avenge and revenge?

To avenge means to take vengeance on behalf of another.

To revenge means to gain satisfaction by carrying out a retributive action.

Avenge or Revenge?

Avenge and revenge have similar meanings, but there is a difference.


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

  • 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.)


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 (even though 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.)

  • The best revenge is massive success. (Frank Sinatra)
  • Revenge is not always sweet. Once it is consummated, we feel inferior to our victim. (Emile M Cioran)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

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? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words