pur·​ga·​to·​ry | \ ˈpər-gə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce purgatory (audio) \
plural purgatories

Definition of purgatory

1 : an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God's grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven
2 : a place or state of temporary suffering or misery

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Did You Know?

Purgatory is the place where the soul is cleansed of all impurities, as Dante described in his great poem The Divine Comedy. Today purgatory can refer to any place or situation in which suffering and misery are felt to be sharp but temporary. Waiting to hear the results of a test, or whether you got a good job, can be a purgatory. And an endless after-dinner speech can make an entire roomful of people feel as if they're in purgatory.

Examples of purgatory in a Sentence

the purgatory of drug abuse The marathons were jokingly referred to as one-day purgatories.

Recent Examples on the Web

With its time in purgatory seemingly over, Credit Suisse is aiming to push its RoTE into double figures. The Economist, "Tidjane Thiam’s overhaul of Credit Suisse is paying off," 24 Aug. 2019 For most, a demotion from the big leagues to the minors feels like a descent into purgatory. BostonGlobe.com, "Mookie Betts’s first taste of a major league clubhouse made him grateful for a demotion," 13 Aug. 2019 All the while, the Wizards remain somewhat in purgatory, with John Wall expected to miss all of the coming season due to a ruptured Achilles, Otto Porter cast aside last season in cost cutting, and the abject failure with Dwight Howard. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Heat to find out if Beal street is even navigable," 25 July 2019 For now, thanks to the reasoning of one judge, the mandate is in a state of purgatory, but its primary message rang loud and clear: Asylum-seekers don't belong in the US. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Depth of Field: The Charged Uncertainty at the Tijuana Border," 25 July 2019 Budget purgatory: Another day of negotiations failed to yield a state budget deal. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, "Business tax exemption key hang-up in Ohio budget talks: Capitol Letter," 12 July 2019 Shea was offered a transfer to headquarters in DC by NASA Administrator George Mueller, though the deputy administrator position that had sounded so good on paper turned out to be nothing more than a bureaucratic version of purgatory. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 1: How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon," 16 July 2019 Zidane has chosen Pogba, which leaves Eriksen in a sort of purgatory. SI.com, "Christian Eriksen 'Considering' Man Utd & Juventus as Real Madrid Prefer to Sign Paul Pogba," 23 June 2019 Barrett looks like one of the few winners in this unexpected purgatory, as the 19-year-old scoring-minded wing needs the ball in his hands and an organization willing to be patient. Ben Golliver, courant.com, "2019 NBA mock draft: How will Pelicans build around Zion Williamson?," 18 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purgatory.' 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 purgatory

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for purgatory

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French purgatorie, from Medieval Latin purgatorium, from Late Latin, neuter of purgatorius purging, from Latin purgare

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Statistics for purgatory

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for purgatory

The first known use of purgatory was in the 13th century

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English Language Learners Definition of purgatory

: a state after death according to Roman Catholic belief in which the souls of people who die are made pure through suffering before going to heaven
: a place or state of suffering

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More from Merriam-Webster on purgatory

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with purgatory

Spanish Central: Translation of purgatory

Nglish: Translation of purgatory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of purgatory for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about purgatory

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recurring in steady succession

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