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Avenge vs. Revenge: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 19, 2023
Avenge is to seek justice for someone else's harm, while revenge is retaliation for personal harm.

Key Differences

Avenge and revenge, though related, hold distinct meanings and usages. To avenge typically implies seeking justice on someone's behalf, often because of a wrong or harm done to another person. This action is generally perceived as an act of righteousness or justice. On the other hand, revenge refers to retaliating against someone to satisfy one's own personal feelings of hurt or resentment. It is often viewed as a more personal and sometimes vindictive response.
While avenge is predominantly used as a verb, revenge can function as both a noun and a verb. For instance, one might say they wish to avenge their friend's betrayal, pointing towards an act of seeking justice for the friend. Conversely, if one seeks revenge for their own personal slight, it leans more towards settling a personal score.
Historically and in literature, acts of avenging often relate to restoring balance or order, such as avenging a fallen comrade in a battle. Meanwhile, tales of revenge are often filled with passionate emotions and personal vendettas, like seeking revenge on a former lover or an old enemy. The motivation behind avenging is usually more selfless, whereas revenge is often driven by personal emotions.
In colloquial language, the difference between the two words can sometimes blur. However, understanding the nuances can greatly aid in using them effectively. Avenge leans more towards justice and acting on someone else's behalf, while revenge is personal and emotion-driven.

Comparison Chart


Primarily a verb
Both a noun and a verb


Justice for someone else
Retaliation for personal harm


Generally seen as righteous or just
Often viewed as personal or vindictive


More selfless, for another's behalf
Personal, driven by own emotions


Avenge a loved one's mistreatment
Seek revenge for a personal betrayal

Avenge and Revenge Definitions


Seek justice for a harm done.
The superhero avenged the crimes committed in the city.


Vindication for a perceived slight.
Her revenge was cold and calculated, waiting years before striking.


Act on behalf of someone wronged.
He vowed to avenge his brother's death.


Personal satisfaction from retaliation.
He felt a deep sense of revenge after confronting his bully.


Rectify or remedy a situation.
She wanted to avenge the false accusations made against her.


A means of getting even.
She plotted her revenge meticulously, leaving nothing to chance.


Act in response to an injustice.
Warriors often avenge their fallen comrades.


The act of retaliating for harm or wrong.
His revenge against the thief was swift and brutal.


Retaliate with a sense of righteousness.
The townspeople banded together to avenge the villain's actions.


Returning harm for harm received.
Many tragic tales revolve around the cycle of revenge.


To inflict a punishment or penalty in return for; revenge
Avenge a murder.


To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult).


To take vengeance on behalf of
Avenged their wronged parents.


(Archaic) To seek or take vengeance for (oneself or another person); avenge.


Is avenge primarily used as a noun or verb?

Avenge is predominantly used as a verb.

Is revenge always personal?

Revenge typically stems from personal feelings of hurt or resentment.

Can seeking revenge be considered righteous?

While some may perceive it as justified, revenge is often driven by personal emotions and can be seen as vindictive.

What does it mean to avenge someone?

To avenge means to seek justice on behalf of someone wronged.

Is revenge about restoring balance?

Revenge is more about personal retaliation than restoring balance.

Can avenge and revenge be used interchangeably?

While related, they have nuanced differences; avenge leans towards justice while revenge is personal.

How is avenging portrayed in literature?

Avenging in literature often relates to restoring order or justice for a wronged party.

Can revenge be a noun?

Yes, revenge can function as both a noun and a verb.

Can a person seek both revenge and avenge a situation?

Yes, but the motivations differ; avenging seeks justice, while revenge is emotion-driven.

Do all cultures view avenging and revenge similarly?

Cultural perspectives vary, with some cultures valuing honor and revenge more than others.

Can revenge be spontaneous?

Yes, revenge can be a spontaneous, emotional reaction to harm or insult.

Why is understanding the difference between avenge and revenge important?

Recognizing the nuances aids in effective communication and understanding motivations behind actions.

Can one avenge their own harm?

Yes, though avenging often implies acting on another's behalf, it can be used for oneself.

Why is revenge often seen in a negative light?

Revenge is often emotion-driven and can perpetuate cycles of harm, leading to negative perceptions.

What motivates acts of revenge?

Revenge is often motivated by personal feelings of hurt, betrayal, or resentment.

Does avenging always imply a noble cause?

While avenging typically leans towards justice, the perceived nobility can be subjective.

Can revenge lead to more harm?

Yes, acts of revenge can perpetuate cycles of retaliation and harm.

In what situations is revenge most common?

Revenge commonly arises from personal betrayals, slights, or perceived wrongs.

Is avenging a passive act?

No, avenging implies taking action in response to an injustice.

Is avenging solely about retaliation?

Not necessarily; avenging often involves seeking justice or righting a wrong.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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