penal

play
adjective pe·nal \ˈpē-nəl\

Definition of penal

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, or involving punishment, penalties, or punitive institutions

  2. 2 :  liable to punishment a penal offense

  3. 3 :  used as a place of confinement and punishment a penal colony

penally

play \ˈpē-nəl-ē\ adverb

Examples of penal in a Sentence

  1. Australia was once a penal colony.

Recent Examples of penal from the Web

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

Did You Know?

A state or country's penal code defines its crimes and describes its punishments. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many countries established penal colonies, where criminals were sent as punishment. Often these were unbearably severe; but it was to such colonies that some of Australia's and the United States' early white inhabitants came, and the convicts provided labor for the European settlement of these lands.

Origin and Etymology of penal

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin poenalis, from poena punishment — more at pain



PENAL Defined for English Language Learners

penal

play
adjective

Definition of penal for English Language Learners

  • : relating to or used for punishment

  • : very severe


PENAL Defined for Kids

penal

play
adjective pe·nal \ˈpē-nəl\

Definition of penal for Students

  1. :  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.


Law Dictionary

penal

play
adjective pe·nal \ˈpēn-əl\

Legal Definition of penal

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, or being punishment penal sanctions

  2. 2 :  making one (as an offender) punishable a penal offense; also :  criminal 2

  3. 3 :  used as a place of confinement and punishment a penal institution



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