1

penitentiary

noun pen·i·ten·tia·ry \ ˌpe-nə-ˈten(t)-sh(ə-)rē \
Updated on: 18 May 2018

Definition of penitentiary

plural penitentiaries
1 a : an officer in some Roman Catholic dioceses vested with power from the bishop to deal with cases of a nature normally handled only by the bishop
b capitalized : a cardinal presiding over a tribunal of the Roman curia (see curia 3) concerned with dispensations (see dispensation 2) and indulgences
2 : a public institution in which offenders against the law are confined for detention or punishment; specifically : a state or federal prison in the U.S.
  • a federal penitentiary in Virginia

Examples of penitentiary in a Sentence

  1. a sentence in the state penitentiary for robbery

Recent Examples of penitentiary from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of penitentiary

Middle English penitenciary, from Medieval Latin poenitentiarius, from poenitentia


2

penitentiary

adjective pen·i·ten·tia·ry \ ˌpe-nə-ˈten(t)-sh(ə-)rē , sense 1 also -ˈten(t)-shē-ˌer-ē \

Definition of penitentiary

2 : of, relating to, or incurring confinement in a penitentiary

Recent Examples of penitentiary from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of penitentiary


PENITENTIARY Defined for Kids

penitentiary

noun pen·i·ten·tia·ry \ ˌpe-nə-ˈten-shə-rē \

Definition of penitentiary for Students

plural penitentiaries
: prison

Law Dictionary

penitentiary

noun pen·i·ten·tia·ry \ ˌpe-nə-ˈten-chə-rē \

legal Definition of penitentiary

plural penitentiaries
: a state or federal prison for the punishment and reformation of convicted felons — compare house of correction, house of detention, jail, lockup


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