carceral

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adjective car·cer·al \ ˈkär-sə-rəl \

Definition of carceral

:of, relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison

carceral was our Word of the Day on 02/08/2017. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of carceral from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carceral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Describing a painting of John Howard visiting a prison in 1787, Robert Hughes wrote that Howard was "the pioneer of English carceral reform" (Time Magazine, November 11, 1985). Prison reform might be the more common phrase, but the use of carceral was by no means unprecedented. Vladimir Nabokov, in his inimitable prose, described a prison scene in Invitation to a Beheading thusly: "The door opened, whining, rattling and groaning in keeping with all the rules of carceral counterpoint." An adjective borrowed directly from Late Latin, carceral appeared shortly after incarcerate ("to imprison"), which first showed up in English around the mid-1500s; they're both ultimately from carcer, Latin for "prison."

Origin and Etymology of carceral

Late Latin, from Latin carcer prison


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