If you’re critiquing something, you might say that you’re giving it “bonus points” for an aspect that wasn’t essential or part of your original grading scheme, but you liked and consider to add something to the work.

Please suggest a similar phrase to use for an aspect that, as with bonus points, wasn’t essential or part of your original grading scheme, but that you disliked and consider to detract from the work. I’ve tried “negative bonus points,” “bonus penalties,” and “penalty points,” but none of them sounds quite right.

  • I was going to suggest looking up antonyms for 'kudos', as that's a concise term for quantifiable praise. However, I haven't yet found a good list of antonyms for kudos. That said, Chris' answer is excellent.
    – Patrick M
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:56
  • Your students must love you.
    – user36720
    Jul 23, 2014 at 16:38
  • @djechlin This is actually for a book review, not for student work.
    – zwol
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:24
  • I realise it doesn't really answer the question (hence, this is a comment) but why not just "The bad points of the article are..."? (Here, I'm using "point" in the sense of "issue", rather than scoring.) Jul 23, 2014 at 18:51
  • I can't possibly believe that nobody chimed in with "10 points from Gryffindor" usage of "points" with a "from".
    – DVK
    Jul 23, 2014 at 23:35

6 Answers 6


demerits - Marks awarded against someone for a fault or offense (definition from google).

  • I'm going to leave this open a couple days in case something even better comes along, but I think "additional demerits" is pretty much what I wanted.
    – zwol
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:18
  • 1
    "docking" is much better here, in the context at hand; and it has the same vibe as "bonus!"
    – Fattie
    Jul 23, 2014 at 8:08
  • 1
    -1 nothing supernumerary about demerit oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/demerit thefreedictionary.com/demerit
    – Kris
    Jul 23, 2014 at 8:14
  • The word 'demerit' doesn't convey the notion that extra work was done to earn the negative points. Jul 23, 2014 at 17:13
  • @DaveMagner Hence 'additional demerits' instead of just 'demerits'. But that phrase has the connotations I want.
    – zwol
    Jul 24, 2014 at 1:28

Have you considered "malus points"?

  • 4
    Like an apple for the teacher? Jul 22, 2014 at 17:52
  • 1
    – tchrist
    Jul 22, 2014 at 18:18
  • 5
    In French, in insurance matters there's a system called "bonus/malus" for establishing rates. In this sense malus is the exact opposite of bonus. I think that's what @painfulenglish was refering to.
    – P. O.
    Jul 22, 2014 at 19:53
  • 3
    Indeed, malus as the opposite of bonus. My thoughts were pure and nonreligious. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus-malus Jul 22, 2014 at 21:07
  • 1
    I have to +1 for malus points just because that sounds like what an engaging and fun teacher would call it. The top scored answer (thus far) of "demerits" has a very serious connotation to it, whereas this sounds a bit more whimsical to my ear. You might choose between the two based on the audience, then.
    – Patrick
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:13

The phrase "I'm docking you X points" comes to mind.

"Your overall entry was satisfactory, but I'm docking you 10 points for submitting it late."


I don't think you'll come up with a very good term that involves use of the words 'bonus' or 'points'. I would use something like 'deductions' in place of 'points' and something like 'superfluous' in place of 'bonus'. 'Deductions for superfluous content' might be a good way to label it.

  • +1 Deductions is perfect. Why was this downvoted?
    – Josh
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:55

What about penalty points? Succinct, easily understood, and even alliterative!


The antonym of bonus is malus, so you might consider something like "I'll give you a malus for submitting this paper late".

  • 5
    This answer duplicates one already given. If you like the idea of malus, please upvote the original answer instead of adding a duplicate.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 23, 2014 at 14:52

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