Definition of penitentiary
1a : 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 bishopb 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
a sentence in the state penitentiary for robbery
Recent Examples of penitentiary from the Web
The exhibit was first shown at Alcatraz, San Francisco’s famous former penitentiary, in 2014, but the artist was unable to attend as he was prevented from traveling.
Perimeter towers at the bureau's largest penitentiary in Coleman, Fla., have also been unstaffed for years, said Joe Rojas, president of the local prison workers union.
A jail management consultant quoted in the report explained that drones present another way for prisoners to sneak contraband into penitentiaries in addition to more conventional means like bribing prison staff or hiding goods inside their bodies.
Some are in the penitentiary, some in the graveyard.
Last month, more than 440 prisoners escaped from a penitentiary in neighboring Riau province when they were let out of their cells to take part in Friday Muslim prayers.
But the track’s cover art depicts what could also be an escape route, an underground tunnel, that leads him out of the penitentiary.
They each were written to a man in the Minnesota state penitentiary, and all of them claimed the baby was his and explained the adoption.
In the wake of a deadly hostage standoff at a Delaware prison this month, about three dozen workers, including nurses and correctional officers, have resigned, increasing pressure on a penitentiary already struggling with staffing shortages.
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
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
PENITENTIARY Defined for Kids
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