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Revenge vs. Vengeance: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 1, 2024
Revenge is a personal retaliation for a wrong, often mirroring the original harm, while vengeance is retribution, usually more severe and often considered as justice.

Key Differences

Revenge is an action taken in response to a perceived wrong, motivated by a desire to retaliate in a manner similar to the original offense. Vengeance, while similar, often carries a connotation of moral righteousness or justice, suggesting a higher cause or justification for the retributive action.
Revenge often involves a personal, emotional drive, where the individual seeks satisfaction by harming those who wronged them. Vengeance, on the other hand, can be more impersonal, focusing on the restoration of balance or order, possibly even carried out by someone not directly affected by the original wrong.
The act of revenge typically mirrors the original harm in scope and nature, aiming to make the perpetrator experience similar suffering. In contrast, vengeance may exceed the scale of the original offense, sometimes implemented as a form of exemplary punishment or deterrent.
In literature and culture, revenge is often portrayed as a flawed, destructive pursuit, leading to cycles of retaliation. Vengeance, while also potentially destructive, is sometimes depicted as more noble or justified, especially if it upholds societal or moral norms.
The pursuit of revenge can be driven by personal vendettas and may not always adhere to legal or ethical standards. Vengeance, although also potentially extralegal, is often framed within the context of achieving a greater sense of justice or righting a profound wrong.

Comparison Chart


Personal grudge
Moral righteousness


Often driven by anger or hurt
Can be more calculated or principled


Mirrors the harm caused
Can be more severe or symbolic


Personal satisfaction
Perceived justice or moral balance


Usually personal closure
Aims for broader impact or deterrence

Revenge and Vengeance Definitions


The action of harming someone in return for an injury.
In revenge, she sabotaged his presentation.


Inflicting harm in response to a wrong, often more severe.
His vengeance was swift, ensuring the corrupt official was exposed.


Personal retaliation for an offense or wrong.
He took revenge on his bully by pranking him back.


Retribution with a sense of justice or moral right.
She sought vengeance for her family's wrongful treatment.


A response aiming to equalize the original offense.
His revenge involved stealing back his stolen property.


Retaliation that serves a perceived moral or societal balance.
The hero's vengeance was not just for himself, but for all the oppressed.


A way of gaining satisfaction for a harm done.
Her revenge was cutting off all ties with her betrayer.


A pursuit of justice through retributive actions.
Her vengeance involved legally bringing the fraudsters to justice.


An act of retribution for personal grievances.
He exacted revenge by spreading rumors about his ex-partner.


An act of punishment or retribution for a greater cause.
In vengeance, the community boycotted the unethical company.


Infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed; retribution.


Revenge taken for an insult, injury, or other wrong.


Desire for revenge.


Punishment inflicted in return for an injury or an offense; retribution; - often, in a bad sense, passionate or unrestrained revenge.
To me belongeth vengeance and recompense.
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes.


Harm; mischief.


The act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done) especially in the next life;
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord
For vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge
He swore vengeance on the man who betrayed him
The swiftness of divine retribution


What drives a person to seek revenge?

Personal emotions like anger or hurt from a perceived wrong.

Is vengeance legally justified?

It depends on the context; legal systems may not view it as justifiable.

Can revenge be positive?

Rarely, as it often perpetuates a cycle of retaliation.

How does society view vengeance?

It varies, but often as more justified if it upholds moral norms.

Does revenge have to be immediate?

No, it can be delayed until an opportune moment.

Does vengeance have to be violent?

No, it can be symbolic or involve legal actions.

Can vengeance be impersonal?

Yes, it can be carried out for a greater cause or principle.

What are the risks of seeking revenge?

Escalation of conflict, legal repercussions, and emotional toll.

Is revenge always personal?

Yes, it typically involves personal grievances.

What impact does revenge have on relationships?

It typically harms or destroys relationships.

Can revenge lead to satisfaction?

Temporarily, but it often doesn't resolve underlying issues.

Are there alternatives to revenge?

Yes, like mediation, forgiveness, or legal recourse.

Does society always support acts of vengeance?

No, societal views vary greatly on this matter.

Can vengeance bring closure?

It might, but it doesn't always address the root cause of the grievance.

Is vengeance a solution to injustice?

Not always, as it can create further injustices.

Can vengeance be premeditated?

Yes, it often involves careful planning and deliberation.

How does revenge affect one's mental health?

It can lead to negative emotions and prolonged stress.

Can vengeance be a form of defense?

Sometimes, especially if it deters further harm.

Can seeking revenge escalate conflicts?

Yes, it often leads to cycles of retaliation.

Is vengeance ever completely fair?

It's subjective and depends on one's perspective on justice.
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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