Make Your Editor Cry: Avenge vs. Revenge

Make Your Editor Cry:  Avenge vs. Revenge

If you seek vengeance, you aim to avenge wrongs, not revenge wrongs.

“Avenge” is a transitive verb that means to take vengeance for, or on behalf of, or to exact satisfaction for (a wrong) by punishing the wrongdoer.

Examples:

The boys vowed to avenge their murdered father.
Boris was determined to avenge the assault on Natasha.

“Revenge” as a noun, it means a desire for vengeance or retribution, or an act or instance of retaliating in order to get even, or an opportunity for getting satisfaction.

Examples:

After Natasha’s brother was murdered, she was motivated by revenge.
Natasha plotted her revenge for months.

In terms of “revenge,” you seek vengeance for a wronged person (or wronged people) or for the inciting act itself.

Examples:

She sought revenge for her murdered brother.
She sought revenge for her brother’s murder.

When you try to get vengeance for a person or people that some wrongs were perpetrated against, you want to avenge him, her, or them. You can also avenge a wrong itself.

Examples:

Natasha avenged her sister by exacting vengeance on the perpetrator.
Boris avenged the assault by exacting vengeance on the attacker.

Substituting “revenge” for “avenge” in such contexts, using “revenge” as a transitive verb and not as a noun while technically proper is not the best choice.

Examples:

She revenged her murdered brother.
She revenged her brother’s murder.

In these cases, “avenge” is really the better word choice.

Examples:

She wanted to avenge her murdered brother.
She wanted to avenge her brother’s murder.
She sought revenge for her murdered brother.
She sought revenge for her brother’s murder.
She exacted revenge for her murdered brother.
She exacted revenge for her brother’s murder.
She avenged her murdered brother.
She avenged her brother’s murder.
Her brother’s murder had been avenged.
Her murdered brother had been avenged.

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