penalty(redirected from under penalty)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
A payment required as a result of breaking the law or sometimes for breaching the terms of a contract. Most contract drafters assiduously avoid the term because private penalties are not enforceable. Instead, contract drafters use the terms liquidated damages, delay payments, or late fees.Even the prepayment penalty is really not a penalty but compensation to a lender for the loss of income suffered when a loan is paid off earlier than the terms allow.