- The definition of penitentiary is punishable by imprisonment, or used for punishment or disciplining.
An example of penitentiary used as an adjective is in the phrase "penitentiary ruling," which means a ruling sending someone to prison for punishment.
- Penitentiary is defined as a prison, or a tribunal in the Roman Catholic Church.
- An example of a penitentiary is a federal prison.
- An example of a penitentiary is a judgment session overseen by a cardinal that deals with questions of conscience.
penitentiary definition by Webster's New World
- of or for penance
- used in punishing, disciplining, and reforming
- making one liable to imprisonment in a penitentiary
- of or in a penitentiary
Origin: Midieval Latin penitentiarius, poenitentiarius (form and meaning influenced, influence by associated, association with Classical Latin poena: see penal) ; from Classical Latin paenitentia ; from paenitens, penitent
Origin: ML penitentiaria < the adj.
- a prison
- ☆ a state or federal prison for persons convicted of serious crimes
Origin: ML(Ec) penitentiarius < the adj.an office or tribunal headed by a cardinal () and dealing with matters of penance, confession, dispensation, absolution, etc.
penitentiary definition by American Heritage Dictionary
noun pl. pen·i·ten·tia·ries
- A prison for those convicted of major crimes.
- Roman Catholic Church a. A tribunal of the Roman Curia having jurisdiction in matters relating to penance, dispensations, and papal absolutions.b. A priest whose special function is the administration of the sacrament of penance in a particular church or diocese.
- Of or for the purpose of penance; penitential.
- Relating to or used for punishment or reform of criminals or wrongdoers.
- Resulting in or punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary: a penitentiary offense.
Origin: Middle English penitenciarie, penance officer, episcopal prison, from Medieval Latin pēnitentiāria, feminine of pēnitentiārius, from Latin paenitentia, penitence, from paenitēns, penitent; see penitent.
penitentiary - Legal Definition