What Is a Bounty?

The term bounty can refer to any of the following:

  1. A generous amount of something.
  2. A reward for capturing or even killing an undesirable person.
  3. A sum paid by a government to reward certain activities or behavior, such as reaching a predefined economic goal or performing a public service.

How Bounties Work

A bounty can mean an abundance of fresh produce, in the sense of "the season's bounty" or "nature's bounty." As a result, it can also mean something that is given generously.

Bounty has many definitions including a generous amount of something, a reward for capturing someone, and a sum paid by a government to reward certain activities or behavior.


A bounty can be a reward by a local government to help track criminals. Someone who makes a living by locating wanted persons is called a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter might track down someone who skips bail and get paid a percentage of the bail when they catch the criminal.

Some governments might offer a bounty or a subsidy to an individual who enlists in that country's armed forces. A bounty can also be a grant paid by the government to encourage certain industries.

Real World Example of a Bounty

There are various forms of bounties and subsidies paid to industries and taxpayers in the U.S. There are farm subsidies to help support farms and sugar subsidies to bolster the agriculture industry.

The energy industry has received subsidies for years, which totaled over $14 billion in 2016 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The subsidies or bounties included loan guarantees for clean energy, tax credits for expenditures, as well as research and development.

A bounty or subsidy can help industries invest in capital equipment designed to better the country or reach a desired outcome like cleaner burning fuel. The coal, nuclear, wind, solar, oil, and gas industries all receive subsidies or bounties from the U.S. government each year.