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Definition of "penitentiary" []

  • A prison for those convicted of major crimes. (noun)
  • Roman Catholic Church A tribunal of the Roman Curia having jurisdiction in matters relating to penance, dispensations, and papal absolutions. (noun)
  • Roman Catholic Church A priest whose special function is the administration of the sacrament of penance in a particular church or diocese. (noun)
  • Of or for the purpose of penance; penitential. (adjective)
  • Relating to or used for punishment or reform of criminals or wrongdoers. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "penitentiary" in a sentence
  • "Please explain how a federal maximum security penitentiary is like a hotel in any way."
  • ""Minimum Parole" is a widespread experiment whereby certain penitentiary inmates who have not achieved ordinary parole, are allowed out with suitable supervision before sentence expiry, allowing one month for each year of sentence to a maximum of six months."
  • "The two cases may be considered in connection with the announcement in the public press that on May 17, 1913, the President commuted the sentence of Lewis A. Banks, who was serving a very long term penitentiary sentence for an attack on a girl in the Indian Territory; "the reason for the commutation which is set forth in the press being that 'Banks is in poor health.'""