penal code


Definition of penal code

: a code of laws concerning crimes and offenses and their punishment

Examples of penal code in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

California penal code defines lynching as taking somebody from police custody by force during a riot. Julia Sclafani, Daily Pilot, "7 are charged after fight on H.B. beach sent police officer to hospital," 5 Aug. 2019 The government says a penalty for hate speech will be announced later, after Parliament approves amendments to the penal code. Fox News, "Sri Lanka readies laws to curb hate speech, false news," 6 June 2019 Homosexuality is criminalized in more than half of African countries, many of which inherited penal codes from colonial powers such as Britain. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Botswana legalizes homosexuality, striking down colonial-era laws," 11 June 2019 For nearly ten minutes, Montalto mumbled through the charges and the Italian penal code, standing over a microphone that hardly picked up his voice. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, "An Absurd Case of Mistaken Identity Draws to a Close," 13 July 2019 But the ruling comes with a major caveat: Consumption of marijuana by California prisoners remains a violation of the state penal code, and possession can still be punished as a rule violation by the California Department of Corrections. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "California prisoners can possess pot but not consume it, appeals court rules," 12 June 2019 Other countries, such as Mozambique and the Seychelles, have simply erased mention of homosexuality from their penal codes during the rewriting process that has accompanied constitutional reform. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Botswana legalizes homosexuality, striking down colonial-era laws," 11 June 2019 Botswana’s ruling follows a similar decision by Angola’s parliament, which voted to drop anti-homosexual colonial era provisions in its penal code in January. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Botswana is the latest African country to scrap colonial-era homosexuality laws," 11 June 2019 According to The Guardian, Botswana is regarded as one of Africa’s most stable and democratic nations but homosexuality was outlawed under the country’s penal code of 1965. Kirsten West Savali, Essence, "Being Gay In Botswana Is Legal Now," 11 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of penal code

circa 1777, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about penal code

Statistics for penal code

Last Updated

16 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for penal code

The first known use of penal code was circa 1777

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for penal code

penal code


English Language Learners Definition of penal code

law : a set of laws relating to crimes and the punishments for those crimes

penal code


Legal Definition of penal code

: a code of laws concerning crimes and their punishments

More from Merriam-Webster on penal code

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with penal code

Comments on penal code

What made you want to look up penal code? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!