Avenge or Revenge?

Avenge and revenge have similar meanings, but there is a difference.

Avenge

The verb to avenge means to seek retribution on behalf of somebody else. It contrasts with revenge which is about seeking retribution for yourself.

Examples:
  • She vowed to avenge her brother's death.
  • (This means she is seeking retribution on behalf of her brother, not for herself.)
  • Follow me if I advance, kill me if I retreat, avenge me if I die. (Vietnamese battle cry)
  • (The narrator of this battle cry is asking his audience to seek retribution on his behalf, not for themselves.)

Revenge

The noun revenge means gaining satisfaction by harming someone in return for a wrongdoing suffered at their hands. (The person seeking the revenge does not have to be the same person inflicted by the wrongdoing (even though it usually is) but is the person who gains satisfaction. Therefore, it is possible to acheive revenge (i.e., to gain satisfaction) by avenging on behalf of another.)

Examples:
  • The best revenge is massive success. (Frank Sinatra)
  • Revenge is not always sweet. Once it is consummated, we feel inferior to our victim. (Emile M Cioran)

A Quick Test