penal

adjective
pe·​nal | \ ˈpē-nᵊl How to pronounce penal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce penal (audio) \ 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 epic story of Henri Papillon Charrière, framed for murder and condemned to life in the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week ‘Pulp Fiction’ on BBC America and IFC," 9 Apr. 2021 Authorities transferred Navalny last month from a Moscow jail to the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of the Russian capital. Fox News, "Putin critic Navalny losing feeling in his hands, legs amid hunger strike, lawyer says," 8 Apr. 2021 Navalny, known as President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critic, is currently in a penal colony close to Moscow and was transferred to its medical unit two days ago with a high temperature and a cough. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, "Putin foe Navalny tests negative for COVID-19 but has 2 hernias, lawyers say," 7 Apr. 2021 Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, sick with a cough and fever, has been moved to the hospital ward of the remote penal colony where he is imprisoned. Shelley Inglis, The Conversation, "For autocrats like Vladimir Putin, ruthless repression is often a winning way to stay in power," 7 Apr. 2021 Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were detained Tuesday outside a penal colony east of Moscow where the Kremlin critic is currently serving time. Time, "Alexei Navalny's Supporters Detained After Being Denied a Prison Visit," 7 Apr. 2021 In an Instagram post Monday, Navalny said that three of 15 people in his room at the penal colony were diagnosed with tuberculosis. Arkansas Online, "Putin signs law allowing him 2 more terms as Russia's leader," 5 Apr. 2021 Navalny is serving out his sentence in a penal colony east of Moscow, which is known for its particularly harsh conditions. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Navalny announces hunger strike in prison in demand for proper medical care," 31 Mar. 2021 The epic story of Henri Papillon Charrière, framed for murder and condemned to life in the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘An American in Paris’; ‘Ben-Hur’," 26 Mar. 2021

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for penal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for penal

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Penal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/penal. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for penal

penal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of penal

: relating to or used for punishment
British : very severe

penal

adjective
pe·​nal | \ ˈpē-nᵊl How to pronounce penal (audio) \

Kids Definition of penal

: relating to or used for punishment

penal

adjective
pe·​nal | \ ˈpēn-ᵊl How to pronounce penal (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on penal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for penal

Nglish: Translation of penal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of penal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on penal

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