A punishment established by law or authority for a crime or offense. Something, especially a sum of money, required as a forfeit for an offense. The disadvantage or painful consequences resulting from an action or condition: neglected his health and paid the penalty. Sports A punishment, handicap, or loss of advantage imposed on a team or competitor for infraction of a rule. Sports An infraction of a rule; a foul. Games Points scored in contract bridge by the opponents when the declarer fails to make a bid. Often used in the plural.