adjective pe·nal \ˈpē-nəl\

: relating to or used for punishment

: very severe

Full Definition of PENAL

:  of, relating to, or involving punishment, penalties, or punitive institutions
:  liable to punishment <a penal offense>
:  used as a place of confinement and punishment <a penal colony>
pe·nal·ly \-nəl-ē\ adverb

Examples of PENAL

  1. <Australia was once a penal colony.>

Origin of PENAL

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin poenalis, from poena punishment — more at pain
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Legal Terms

actionable, alienable, carceral, chattel, complicity, decedent, larceny, malfeasance, modus operandi

Rhymes with PENAL

PENALLY Defined for Kids


adjective pe·nal \ˈpē-nəl\

Definition of PENAL for Kids

:  relating to or used for punishment

Word Root of PENAL

The Latin word poena, meaning punishment, gives us the root pen or pun. Words from the Latin poena have something to do with punishments. A penalty is a punishment for doing something wrong. Anything penal, such as a group of laws, explains punishments for specific crimes. Punish and punishment also come from poena.


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