Penitentiary meaning

pĕn'ĭ-tĕn'shə-rē
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.

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A prison for those convicted of major crimes.
noun
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Relating to or used for punishment or reform of criminals or wrongdoers.
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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.

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Of or for the purpose of penance; penitential.
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Resulting in or punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary.

A penitentiary offense.

adjective
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Of or for penance.
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Used in punishing, disciplining, and reforming.
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Making one liable to imprisonment in a penitentiary.
adjective
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Of or in a penitentiary.
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An office or tribunal headed by a cardinal (Grand Penitentiary) and dealing with matters of penance, confession, dispensation, absolution, etc.
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A penal institution that is intended for long-term confinement of convicted criminals. See also jail.
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A priest in the Roman Catholic Church who administers the sacrament of penance.
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Of or relating to penance; penitential.
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Of or relating to the punishment of criminals.
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Origin of penitentiary

  • Middle English penitenciarie penance officer, episcopal prison from Medieval Latin pēnitentiāria feminine of pēnitentiārius from Latin paenitentia penitence from paenitēns penitent penitent
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
  • From Medieval Latin penitentiaria (“place of penitence"), term used by the Quakers in Pennsylvania during the 1790s, describing a place for penitents to dwell upon their sins.
    From Wiktionary