, well-deserved punishment
for past transgressions
Although the term originated in the mid-19th century, it was made popular because of its promiment use in Orson Welles' film The Magnificent Ambersons. So popular in fact, that it became standard to use the word in correlation to the original Booth Tarkington novel the movie is based on. Actually the word was Welles' own addition and is never mentioned in the novel.