penal

adjective
pe·nal | \ˈpē-nᵊl \

Definition of penal 

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

2 : liable to punishment a penal offense

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

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Other Words from penal

penally \ˈpē-nᵊl-ē \ adverb

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.

Examples of penal in a Sentence

Australia was once a penal colony.

Recent Examples on the Web

The course features narrow fairways and penal rough, as well as green complexes that are guarded by bunkers aplenty and dense rough. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Quicken Loans National Preview: History, Field, Odds, Predictions," 27 June 2018 The new version removes the penal provisions and is likely to allow Poland to repair its international standing and relationship with its allies. Washington Post, "Polish government backs away from disputed Holocaust law," 27 June 2018 When the World Cup started in Russia on Thursday, Oleg Sentsov was on day 32 of his hunger strike in a northern Siberian penal colony. Sabra Ayres, latimes.com, "Ukrainian film director on hunger strike in a Russian prison casts dark cloud over World Cup," 19 June 2018 Is the answer to quarantine him in a penal colony …? Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "The Royals are considering trying to sign Luke Heimlich. Here's why they shouldn't," 25 June 2018 Williams returns to his old community, which is shadowed by a fortress-like jail on a hill, to learn about how the penal system oppresses African-Americans and the poor. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: Prison reform, computer games, gay marriage, silent Super 8," 21 June 2018 Sydney was one of two penal colonies the British established in Australia (the other was in Hobart, way south in Tasmania). Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Sydney Became an LGBTQ Destination," 13 June 2018 The administration’s adoption of a zero-tolerance policy on border crossing, which includes separating children from parents, is bursting the seams of the American penal system. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Trump administration is running out of places to put immigrant detainees.," 13 June 2018 One Uber driver will not be getting a smaller portion of anything, except possibly meals in Georgia’s penal system: Kevin Jerome was pulled over outside of Atlanta while ferrying two Uberites to their destination and arrested. Ed Wallace\, star-telegram, "Technology’s Blown Engine," 8 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of penal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for penal

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

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Phrases Related to penal

penal colony

penal institution

Statistics for penal

Last Updated

29 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penal

The first known use of penal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for penal

penal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of penal

: relating to or used for punishment

: very severe

penal

adjective
pe·nal | \ˈpē-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of penal

: relating to or used for punishment

penal

adjective
pe·nal | \ˈpēn-ᵊl \

Legal Definition of penal 

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

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

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

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Comments on penal

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