“Avenge” vs. “Revenge”
What’s the difference between avenge and revenge? They can be used interchangeably as verbs, though avenge is more common and revenge is used more often as a noun.
Both avenge and revenge, which share the Anglo-French root venger, meaning “to avenge” (ultimately from Latin vindicare, whence also vindicate and vindication), mean “to take vengeance, to retaliate for a wrong.” (The former is slightly more exalted in tone than the latter, implying righteous retribution rather than mere payback.) Unlike revenge, however, avenge is not used in noun form to mean “vengeance, retaliation.” In addition, one who avenges is an avenger, but there is no parallel form based on revenge.
Venge, an obsolete variant, is the basis of the noun vengeance, which has a literal meaning nearly synonymous with revenge (as with avenge and the verb revenge, vengeance has a more elevated connotation than the noun revenge), but in the idiomatic phrase “with a vengeance,” it means “excessively” or “vehemently.” The adjective vengeful (and the adverb vengefully and the noun vengefulness, meaning “the quality of feeling vengeful”) also stems from the archaic form.
One can also be said to be revengeful, and to act revengefully or to feel revengefulness, but these are needless variants of the simpler forms described above.
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