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.
An example of penitentiary used as an adjective is in the phrase "penitentiary ruling," which means a ruling sending someone to prison for punishment.
A penitentiary offense.
Other Word Forms
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