Definition of penitentiary
1 a : an officer in some Roman Catholic dioceses vested with power from the bishop to deal with cases of a nature normally handled only by the bishop b capitalized : a cardinal presiding over a tribunal of the Roman curia concerned with dispensations and indulgences
2 : a public institution in which offenders against the law are confined for detention or punishment; specifically : a state or federal prison in the United States
Examples of penitentiary
<a sentence in the state penitentiary for robbery>
Origin of penitentiary
Middle English penitenciary, from Medieval Latin poenitentiarius, from poenitentia
First Known Use: 15th century
First Known Use of penitentiary
PENITENTIARY Defined for Kids
Learn More about penitentiary
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for "penitentiary" Spanish Central: Translation of "penitentiary" Nglish: Translation of "penitentiary" for Spanish speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about "penitentiary"
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