purgatory

noun
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

After nearly half a season of Escobar putting up a .537 OPS, Mondesi has been recalled from purgatory in Omaha to play at least three times a week. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Several new closer jobs open up," 22 June 2018 Slapdash vagueness undermines this energetic book’s purgatory of female pain. Daisy Fried, New York Times, "Sex, Death, Suffering and Surrealism, in New Books of Poetry," 6 July 2018 But there’s no process in place to register an electric scooter, leaving them in regulatory purgatory. Shoshana Wodinsky, The Verge, "New York City is the perfect scooter market, but it’s also the most impossible," 11 Aug. 2018 The Red Wings and Tigers are rebuilding and the Pistons are stuck in NBA purgatory with no cap space, and in search of a new head coach and general manager. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Where Detroit ranks among longest championship droughts," 8 June 2018 For the last few seasons Joseph, formerly a runway regular at London Fashion Week, had faded from the schedule into the painful purgatory of showroom presentations—and with no satisfactory rationale to explain the decline. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Lacoste Appoints Louise Trotter as Creative Director," 4 Oct. 2018 One-eyed purgatory: For safety’s sake, cataract surgeons usually operate on one eye at a time, waiting a few weeks before doing the second eye to make sure the first one is back to normal. Daniel Akst, WSJ, "What Doctors Don’t Tell You About Cataract Surgery," 16 Nov. 2018 This purgatory was on full display against Brazil—in 2014, too. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Mexico’s World Cup Ends in Round of 16," 2 July 2018 February was a purgatory of waiting and tiny victories. Lindsey Vehlewald, SELF, "We Never Got Flu Shots. Then the Flu Almost Killed My Husband," 9 Nov. 2018

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

29 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for purgatory

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

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More Definitions for purgatory

purgatory

noun

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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