Learner's definition of PUNITIVE
1 : intended to punish someone or something
The federal government will take punitive action against the company that polluted the river.
The plaintiff will receive $50,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. [=money that someone is ordered to pay as a punishment for causing harm]
2 [more punitive; most punitive] : extremely or unfairly severe or high