- punish mid-14c., from O.Fr. puniss-, extended prp. stem of punir "to punish," from L. punire "inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense," earlier poenire, from poena "penalty, punishment" (see PENAL (Cf. penal)). Colloquial meaning "to inflict heavy damage or loss" is first recorded 1801, originally in boxing. Related: Punished. Punishing "hard-hitting" is from 1811.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.