Difference between Revenge and Avenge

Key Difference: Revenge refers to harm that is done to someone in return of something they has done before. Another way of saying this is that it ‘the act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs’ i.e. retaliation. Avenge, on the other hand, has a similar meaning, to ‘inflict a punishment or penalty for an injury or a wrong.’

The two terms ‘Revenge’ and ‘Avenge’ are actually different.  They sound similar, though they don’t actually mean the same. However, their pronunciation is not the only reason for the confusion. The primary reason for the confusion between the two terms is the fact that they have similar meanings, though they are not used in the same way.

Revenge refers to harm that is done to someone in return of something they has done before. Another way of saying this is that it ‘the act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs’ i.e. retaliation. Avenge, on the other hand, has a similar meaning, to ‘inflict a punishment or penalty for an injury or a wrong.’ Both refer to the idea of wronging someone, who has wronged them or someone they know.

One of the primary difference between them is the fact that revenge is a noun, whereas avenge is a verb. Basically, this means that revenge is a thing that someone may want, however, avenge is something that they do. Example: I will avenge you father. Once I kill him, I will have my revenge. Here it can be seen that avenge is an action, something to be done, whereas revenge is a thing, a noun, something to be achieved.

However, revenge can also be used as a verb. For example: I will be revenged. However, it is not commonly used in this context, hence it sounds odd, and most people might consider it wrong. In most of these instances and in most sentences, revenge can be interchanged with avenge, i.e. I will be avenged.

Another fast and loose rule is that avenge means to seek retribution on behalf of somebody else, whereas revenge is retribution against someone who had done some wrong in the past. In context of revenge, the wronged party can be somebody else, or oneself. However, it should be noted that this is not a strict rule, and many people do not follow it ardently.

In short, a safe rule of thumb in order to distinguish between revenge and avenge is that revenge is mostly used as a noun, whereas avenge is used as a verb. Everything else is semantic. Also, avenge tends to have more of a righteous feel for it, like they are fighting for a worthy cause, whereas, revenge can be righteous or just merely payback.

Comparison between Revenge and Avenge:

 

Revenge

Avenge

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

The action of hurting or harming someone in return for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.

The desire to repay an injury or wrong.

Inflict harm in return for (an injury or wrong done to oneself or another)

Description

Something that should be achieved or done. Harm that is caused to another as justified by something done by them.

To cause harm so someone that is justified by due to something wrong done by them.

Type

Noun, Verb

Verb

Etymology

Late Middle English: from Old French revencher, from late Latin revindicare, from re- (expressing intensive force) + vindicare ‘claim, avenge’.

Late Middle English: from Old French avengier, from a- (from Latin ad ‘to’) + vengier, from Latin vindicare ‘vindicate’.

Example

I will have my revenge.

He will be revenged.

Revenge is best served cold.

Sweet Revenge!

I will avenge you.

He will be avenged.

Father, I will avenge you.

I am an Avenger (i.e. someone who avenges).

Reference: Oxford Dictionaries (Revenge and Avenge), Grammar Monster,
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Image Courtesy: pediaa.com, wikimedia.org

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