In my writing I encounter topics about regulations and I am forced to use the word "punish" very frequently. The tone of my writing should be formal / professional, and I am at my wit's end as to how to introduce much needed word variety -- seeing as all the synonyms that the thesaurus and my brain can think of do not have the right level of formality.

  • spank
  • chastise (formal, but now its overkill)
  • crack down

This is merely for the general case, but for illustrations sake, consider:

The regulator _______ the company citing insufficient due diligence.


My last iota of hope hinges on some phrase that retains a formal style that has the appropriate meaning. Thesauruses are not always robust to such phrases, so perhaps the greater community here will have some ideas.

  • Maybe reprimand (although I infer a minor transgression from it)
    – user150753
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 3:53
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    Maybe “sanction” will work for you.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 4:39
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    I do like sanction. Also: penalize, admonish, call out, scold, reprimand, issue a formal reprimand, write (the company) up, rap (the company) on the knuckles, pound, castigate, discipline, issue a rebuke, lambaste. Of these, "call out" seems the most informal. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 4:56
  • 2
    How about "The regulator cited the company for insufficient due diligence."
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 6:44
  • 3
    You can't just ask us to "fill in the blanks" without telling us exactly what you're trying to say. A "regulator", for example, could do many different things - ranging from issuing a warning, through handing out fines or punishment right up to closing down a business. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


Castigate can be used. It is a formal synonym for punish.
Dictionary Defenition:
cas·ti·gate - verb (used with object)
1. To criticize or reprimand severely
2. To punish in order to correct.

  • This would be a better answer with a link to (and an excerpt from) the definition of castigate from a dictionary.
    – Davo
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 19:03

At the most formal level (used in parliamentary procedure): censure

1 : a judgment involving condemnation unorthodox practices awaiting the censure of the city council

2 : the act of blaming or condemning sternly The country faces international censure for its alleged involvement in the assassination.

3 : an official reprimand The lawyer's misconduct resulted in a letter of censure from the judge.

Source: merriam-webster.com

Other good options include: Rebuke, Reprimand, Reproach

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