Comeuppance is a noun meaning a consequence or result of a merited action. Sometimes we call this one’s just deserts. The plural for this noun is comeuppances. Caution should be observed when using the plural. It does not suggest two punishments for the same person, but two different (though fitting) consequences for two different people.

It was coined in the middle of the nineteenth century as a version of  a phrase come-up-ance, or the act of coming up in front of a judge to be sentenced.

Come-upping was a Cornish word for being flogged, which was a form of civil punishment for certain crimes.


Whether these two versions are related is uncertain, but it is interesting to note that the word comeuppance is sometimes written or said as comeuppins in slang. This may also be a dialectal difference for regions that commonly change the short sound to the short sound.


A young Romeo who dated at least 17 Juliets at once – including fathering a child with one of them – got his comeuppance after a car accident when doctors contacted his “relatives” – and all his girlfriends turned up at the same time. [South China Morning Post]

Fitting as her comeuppance may have seemed, I have to confess to a certain sympathy with former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s instinctive reaction to her loss of the Progressive Conservative Party nomination in the Highwood Riding on the weekend. [Rabble]

Usually, the bad guys got what they deserved by the end, with gruesome, funny comeuppances that matched the gravity of their crimes. [Detroit Free Press]


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